Celgene Corp.’s (CELG) shares rose 1.9% during after-hours trading on Monday after the Summit, New Jersey-based biotech firm announced a big breakthrough in its quest to treat lymphoma, a group of cancers that attack cells that form part of the immune system.
In a press release, Celgene said that a phase 3 clinical trial of a combination of REVLIMID, the company’s flagship medication used to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, with rituximab, a drug used to treat certain autoimmune diseases and types of cancer, was a success. The results of the randomized study revealed that the combination (R2) showed "highly statistically significant improvement" in progression-free survival than rituximab plus a placebo.
Jay Backstrom, managing director and chief medical officer at Celgene, applauded the breakthrough, noting that new therapies to treat diseases that lead to immune dysfunction are greatly needed.
“Indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas, such as follicular lymphoma and marginal zone lymphoma, are diseases of underlying immune dysfunction with a need for new options beyond currently available therapies,” he said in the press release. “We are encouraged by the highly significant improvement in progression-free survival observed in this study and look forward to engaging with regulatory authorities as soon as possible. The R2 regimen represents a potentially new chemotherapy-free option for these patients.”
The company added that it will submit the data from the trials at a future medical meeting and plans to prepare global regulatory submissions in the first quarter of 2019. (See also: Biotech Celgene's Stock Seen Rebounding 14%.)
Celgene’s stock has taken a beating this past year, mainly because investors are concerned that the company is running out of options to generate new revenue opportunities now that its popular multiple myeloma therapy is set to face generic competition in March 2022. The flagship multiple myeloma drug generates about 60% of Celgene’s total revenues. (See also: Celgene Strikes Strategic Partnership With Evotec.)