Endocyte, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECYT), a leader in developing targeted small molecule drug conjugates (SMDCs) and companion imaging agents for personalized therapy, today announced in a late-breaking poster session the presentation of new research from investigators and faculty at the Purdue University Center for Drug Discovery on the application of Endocyte’s SMDC technology in a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapy setting (Poster #LB-254 – A Universal Remedy for CAR T cell limitations) at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans.

“This technology and these data reflect a potentially significant advance in overcoming several challenges specific to CAR therapies as well as the powerful versatility of Endocyte’s SMDC platform,” said Ron Ellis, president and CEO at Endocyte. “This is still in the early stages of research, and we look forward to our continued collaboration with Phil Low and his lab at the Purdue Drug Discovery Center to further explore the potential of this CAR therapeutic approach as we look to build our SMDC platform in immuno-oncology.”

The presentation discusses a novel approach that makes possible the engineering of a single universal CAR T cell, which binds with extraordinarily high affinity to a benign molecule designated as FITC. These cells are then used to treat various cancer types when co-administered with bispecific SMDC adaptor molecules. These unique bispecific adaptors are constructed with a FITC molecule and a tumor-homing molecule to precisely bridge the universal CAR T cell with the cancer cells, which causes localized T cell activation.  Data in this poster show that anti-tumor activity in mice is induced only when both the universal CAR T cells plus the correct antigen-specific adaptor molecules are present. Findings also show that anti-tumor activity and toxicity can be sensitively controlled by adjusting the dosing of the administered adaptor molecule. Furthermore, treatment of antigenically heterogeneous tumors can be achieved by administration of a mixture of the desired antigen-specific adaptors. Thus, several challenges of current CAR T cell therapies, such as i) the inability to control the rate of cytokine release and tumor lysis, ii) the absence of an “off switch” that can terminate cytotoxic activity when tumor eradication is complete, and iii) a requirement to generate a different CAR T cell for each unique tumor antigen, may be solved or mitigated using this novel universal CAR T cell approach.

“Through our strong, ongoing collaboration with Endocyte, we are optimistic that this exciting approach might advance the enormous potential of CAR T cell therapies to benefit patients in truly meaningful ways,” said Phil Low, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Purdue University. Dr. Low is the chief scientific officer, a board member and founder of Endocyte.

Endocyte and Purdue University have an exclusive agreement to research, develop and commercialize SMDC therapeutics and companion imaging agents for the treatment of disease through a long-standing partnership with Dr. Low and Purdue University. Endocyte holds the global rights to the CAR and SMDC adaptors for all indications. Additionally, Endocyteand Purdue University jointly own this technology, which is covered by both allowed and pending patent applications. (Original Source)

Shares of Endocyte closed yesterday at $3.92, down $0.04 or -1.01%. ECYT has a 1-year high of $6.52 and a 1-year low of $2.65. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $3.40 and its 200-day moving average is $3.91.

On the ratings front, Endocyte has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on March 3, Wedbush analyst David Nierengarten maintained a Buy rating on ECYT, with a price target of $8, which represents a potential upside of 104.1% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on March 2, Cowen’s Boris Peaker maintained a Buy rating on the stock .

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, David Nierengarten and Boris Peaker have a total average return of 34.6% and 14.6% respectively. Nierengarten has a success rate of 50.9% and is ranked #24 out of 3807 analysts, while Peaker has a success rate of 47.7% and is ranked #166.

Endocyte, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company, which develops targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. The company uses its proprietary technology to create novel small molecule drug conjugates and companion imaging diagnostics for personalized targeted therapies. Its small molecule drug conjugates are actively target receptors that are over-expressed on diseased cells. The company was founded by P. Ron Ellis and Philip S. Low on December 6, 1995 and is headquartered in West Lafayette, IN.