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Struggling GlobeImmune brings in financial advisers as options dwindle

August 14, 2015
Life sciences
Not long after a mid-stage trial failure blasted its stock value and forced the company to lay off most of its staff, a troubled GlobeImmune has brought in Cantor Fitzgerald to advise the biotech on its “strategic options”–which may signal that a fire sale is in the offing.
 
GlobeImmune CEO Timothy Rodell had tried to make the best of things when he fingered signs of biologic activity among a handful of patients given the hep B vaccine GS-4774 in a Phase II trial. But the big takeaway was that the Louisville, CO-based company’s lead program had flunked out when given a chance to establish proof-of-concept data among the 178 patients in the study.
 
As a result of that failure, GlobeImmune’s shares were shattered and the company’s market cap sits at a tiny $15 million–a bite-sized target for anyone interested in the company.
 
Gilead in-licensed the hep B program back in 2011 and the biotech has a second Phase II trial underway as well. Celgene ($CELG), meanwhile, stepped in early a few days ago to pick up its option on GI-6207, which targets cancer cells that express a carcinoembryonic antigen.
 
Celgene paid only $1.9 million for the accelerated option, with potential royalties attached, gaining a therapy that’s now in a 34-patient Phase II study at the NCI, where investigators are studying its impact on calcitonin levels–a biomarker for recurrent medullary thyroid cancer.
 
The biotech industry has enjoyed a three-year romp on Wall Street, but weak companies with small pipelines are at risk of a savage beating at the hands of investors when things go sour. GlobeImmune only raised about $15 million when it sold a batch of IPO shares at $10 each–well under its range–last summer. The stock was trading at $2.60 this morning.
 
By John Carroll
 

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