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Biotech Pullback: Look to Targeted Therapy Companies

Oct 19, 2015 (ACCESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- REDONDO BEACH, CA / ACCESSWIRE / October 19, 2015 / It's with good reason that there is a growing choir of voices heralding the science of targeted therapies as innovative approaches to improving medical care. Advancements in biology and technology underscore discovering specific receptors in cells that can be targeted for meaningful benefits in hard to treat diseases and conditions. There is also a significant diagnostic component in identifying which patients may benefit from certain therapies, while giving direction to avoid other treatments that likely would be ineffective. Combined, these streamline the treatment process and improve outcomes, equating to better quality of life for patients and a quantifiable savings to overburdened healthcare systems.

Targeted therapies are becoming prominent in the cancer space, including the work of cell therapy company Caladrius Biosciences CLBS, -0.43% which late in September announced an award from the National Cancer Institute to fund research to optimize its therapeutic agent targeting tumor-initiating cells. The company's lead product candidate is CLBS20, which is being used in an ongoing Phase 3 trial for metastatic melanoma under Fast Track and Orphan Drug designations with Special Protocol Assessment granted by the FDA. New data on CLBS20 is being reported at the popular Alliance for Regenerative Medicine's Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa Scientific Symposium on October 9, 2015.

Loxo Oncology LOXO, +0.72% is making headway with its oral cancer drug candidate LOXO-101, the only selective tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) inhibitor in clinical development. LOXO-101 is currently in a Phase 1 dose escalation trial at the University of Colorado Cancer Center for patients with advanced solid tumors. Late in July, the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Discovery published a research brief describing a female patient in the trial with advanced soft tissue sarcoma widely metastatic to the lungs that responded to LOXO-101 after failing other courses of treatment.

Also contributing to the brief was molecular information company Foundation Medicine FMI, +0.51% the developer and marketer of the clinical assays FoundationOne for solid tumors and FoundationOne Heme for hematologic malignancies and sarcomas. The assays deliver a genomic profile that identifies molecular alterations in a specific patient's cancer and matches that profile with relevant targeted therapies and clinical trials. In the Loxo trial, FoundationOne Heme was used to determine that the patient's cancer harbored a TRK gene fusion.

While targeted therapies are seeing a growing importance for cancer, cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2013, remains...