Asco event analyser – 2016’s winners and losers

Data released around Asco tend to create some of the most dramatic share price gains and losses of the year, and 2016 is no exception. Threshold Pharmaceuticals and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals recorded the biggest rises as a result of some promising results in pancreatic cancer and Her2-positive solid tumours respectively.

For losses, look no further than Pronai Therapeutics and Mirati Therapeutics, which were punished for disappointing data from their lead projects. In the big cap world, meanwhile, AbbVie was the big loser as its $5.8bn buyout of Stemcentrx was not rewarded with the superb data the price tag would suggest (see tables below).

To measure the effect of Asco-related share movement, EP Vantage analysed changes from the market’s close on May 18, after which the meeting’s abstracts were released, through June 7, the final day of the conference. Companies are ranked by percentage change in share price.

On the Threshold of a comeback?

Threshold’s evofosfamide was featured in an oral abstract presentation showing that in its failed phase III Maestro pancreatic cancer study a subgroup of 123 patients at Japanese and South Korean trial sites registered improvements in progression-free survival and objective response rates, and the drug reduced the risk of death by 48%.

The adoptive T-cell therapy player Bellicum offered much earlier results but, with CAR-T being the hottest area of development, the preclinical data showing activity against Her2-positive tumour cells was taken as a sign that this approach would be viable in the clinic.

The same is true of Kite Pharma and Juno Therapeutics, which made the top 10 Asco-related share risers on the strength of a durable response in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia respectively.

Top Asco share price gainers
Company Change
Threshold Pharmaceuticals 37%
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals 35%
Exelixis 33%
Calithera Biosciences 31%
Atara Biotherapeutics 28%
Genmab 27%
Kite Pharma 23%
Foundation Medicine 22%
Array BioPharma 22%
Aduro Biotech 21%
Juno Therapeutics 20%
Clovis Oncology 19%
Celldex Therapeutics 19%
Endocyte 17%
Sunesis Pharmaceuticals 16%

In spite of being constantly upstaged by Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, Exelixis’s Cabometyx has its bulls. Final phase III data in renal cell carcinoma as well as phase I data for a combination of Cotellic and Roche’s Tecentriq resulted in a 33% boost in share prices over the Asco period.

Meanwhile, Genmab was the beneficiary of new data suggesting that the multiple myeloma treatment Darzalex in combination with Velcade should become the new standard of care, although the combined cost of these agent is still a factor to consider when assessing uptake (Asco 2016 – Darzalex tries to climb the myeloma ladder, June 6, 2016).

Array BioPharma picked a good time to announce plans to expand the clinical programme for encorafenib and binimetinib (Asco 2016 – Array to test Braf/Mek combo in colorectal cancer, June 5, 2016). Finally, Aduro Biotech bounced back from the failure of its immunotherapy CRS-207 in pancreatic cancer with positive early-stage data in mesothelioma.


Data from Pronai’s phase II trial of PNT2258 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma were not strong enough to support continued development of the DNA interference agent. Mirati, likewise, suffered from disappointing results from its c-Met inhibitor glesatinib and a downgrade from Leerink (Asco 2016 – Mirati takes home the share price wooden spoon, June 7, 2016).

Top Asco share price losers
Company Change
Pronai Therapeutics -59%
Mirati Therapeutics -41%
Onconova Therapeutics -24%
CTI Biopharma -2%
Medivation -2%

Onconova Therapeutics’ presentations on its plans to advance oral and intravenous versions of its agent Estybon in myelodysplastic syndromes failed to inspire, although the intra-Asco period was marked by a one-for-10 share consolidation and a rights offering to fund phase III study.

CTI Biopharma presented data on its myelofibrosis project pacritinib, but as this remains under clinical hold the results did not excite investors. Medivation sank after a safety signal was identified with the Parp inhibitor talazoparib, the promise of which remains one of the sticking points in the Sanofi acquisition bid, when combined with carboplatin in BRCA-mutated tumours.

Biopharma groups registering gains outweighed those with losses in the intra-Asco period, a sign that investors still see this as a time to bet on success no matter how badly the sector has fared this year. The usual post-Asco selloff is now under way – time will tell if the gloomy longer-term trend will resume.

To contact the writers of this story email Jonathan Gardner or Edwin Elmhirst in London at or follow @ByJonGardner or @EPVantage on Twitter

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