This last weekend, on August 11, a special was aired on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN program with Dr. Keith Black and a number of patients who have been cured of glioblastoma with an experimental drug ICT-107. The special was to look at the benefit of ImmunoCellular Therapeutics' (IMUC) glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) vaccine ICT-107, and the patients who have received the vaccine. It was exciting to watch for anyone who has ever fought cancer or who has lost a loved one to cancer, as it shows how remarkably close we are to finding a more efficient answer to fighting the disease. As a result, I am sharing a few of the highlights from the special, which further shows the progress that is being made in fighting this very viscous disease.
Dr. Keith Black, who is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for IMUC, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who was named by Forbes magazine as being one of the 10 most influential celebrities, spoke over the weekend to discuss ICT-107, what makes it different, and allowed us to meet a few real life survivors (which has not occurred up until this point). First, Dr. Black speaks with Dr. Gupta and explains glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) by saying:
"It (glioblastoma multiforme) destroys our ability to see, our ability to speak, ability to move, remember. It destroys the very essence of who we are."
"It can grow within a matter of weeks. If from the time of diagnosis to death, if one does not have any treatment, that time can be as short, you know, as two to three months."
Dr. Black, who is a prominent neurosurgeon, hit the nail on the head when putting into words the seriousness of GBM. Dr. Gupta also added, "Even with the best standard of care no one beats this. Most patients die within 12 to 15 months of diagnosis."
The bottom line is that the disease itself is deadly, and those diagnosed with this late stage form of the disease do not live very long. Dr. Gupta continued to speak of the disease and added the following in regards to the early results of the vaccine:
"Typically without the vaccine, only 12 percent of patients would make it to the five-year mark. This small group, 16 patients, did more than three times better."
Dr. Black adds to the above comment and says, "Of those 16 patients 6 of the 16 are alive and disease free, 3 of those 6 are alive and disease free past five years."
The interview allowed viewers to meet two of the survivors, and more importantly hear their story. The first, Mary Wong Lee talked about not being able to spell after being diagnosed, but now after five years, Mary is cancer free with no evidence of the disease. And another patient, Michael Wolfe, had a detailed explanation of his first symptoms with GBM:
"He went to work with a bad headache, had a seizure at the office, collapsed on the floor, called the ambulance, and was at the hospital within five minutes."
After hearing Michael's story, his diagnosis didn't sound good. But today, he shares the same cancer free life that Mary is enjoying, the only difference is that Michael has made it to an unprecedented six years, and has survived the most deadly brain cancer known to man, and has done so with ICT-107.
To watch the CNN video in its entirety click here
This CNN special answered a lot of questions surrounding ICT-107 and the disease. In the past, some have questioned the seriousness of the disease for the 16 patients treated in Phase 1. First off, GBM is the latest stage and most deadly form of brain cancer, there are no good cases. Therefore, the treatment, and hope of patients is encouraging and validates the clinical results of this vaccine, and also puts into perspective how deadly GBM is for patients and how quickly it destroys for those who are not treated with ICT-107 and settle with standard of care.
IMUC is now in the process of enrolling patients for its Phase 2 trial, and has already enrolled roughly 213 patients, showing an incredible rate of enrollment compared to GBM trials of the past. Interim results are expected in the first half of 2013 (major catalyst for stock), some expect Q1, and when it happens, if results are even a fraction of Phase 1 results, then ICT-107 will be on the fast-track to approval and there will be more life-saving stories to compliment Michael and Mary's incredible story of survival.
Disclosure: I am long IMUC.
Additional disclosure: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used to determine an investment decision