Tracon’s latest oncology failure leaves little to excite investors

After flunking in renal cell carcinoma at the end of last year and in gliblastoma multiforme in 2017, success in angiosarcoma represented one of Tracon Pharmaceuticals' last hopes of keeping its oncology dreams alive. Tracon's near-50% share price fall on Friday shows how that worked out. The phase III Tappas trial, which evaluated its lead product, TRC105, in combination with Votrient in advanced or metastatic angiosarcoma was terminated for futility, with the group saying it would also cease further enrolment into company-sponsored oncology trials of TRC105. While Tracon tried to accentuate the positive, pointing to the cost savings of terminating the Tappas trial early, future catalysts for the shares appear to be few and far between. Some investors hope that TRC253, Tracon’s joint venture with Johnson & Johnson for prostate cancer, could see the US big pharma group buy the asset, but J&J is unlikely to move before phase I/II data read out at the end of the year. Tracon’s novel partnership with the Chinese biopharma company I-Mab over immuno-oncology projects is certainly interesting, but very much a longer-term play. For now Tracon looks like it could be stuck in the stock equivalent of the doldrums.

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