HCW starts Heat Biologics at buy; PT $6

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H.C. Wainwright launched coverage of Heat Biologics (NASDAQ:HTBX) with a “buy” rating and $6 price target. The stock closed at $2.22 on June 25.

The company’s immunotherapy approach for the treatment of tumors is focused on its T-cell activating platform (TCAP). The cornerstone of the company’s TCAP approach is the ImPACT (Immune Pan-Antigen Cytotoxic Therapy) platform.

Analyst Joseph Pantginis writes that ImPACT reprograms a live, genetically modified cancer cell line to continually secret the heat-shock protein, gp96, in an untethered fashion. In turn, this makes the cells a continuous antigen factory for presentation to the immune system with the goal of activating CD8 killer T-cells and turning “cold” tumors to “hot,” he added.

“This important concept is based on targeting tumors that, at baseline, have minimal to no infiltration of lymphocytes, making them relatively invisible to the immune system, the cold status,” he said.

The lead ImPACT asset is HS-110, and data, to date, support the activation of an immune response and T-cell infiltration into the tumor, leading to the hot status, he added.

The company is currently in an ongoing Phase 2 program in non-small cell lung cancer in combination with nivolumab for second-line patients. Interim data have been announced from 35 patients, showing that median overall survival has not yet been reached, with follow up of more than 26 months, which compares favorably to the historical control of nivolumab alone of 12.2 months, Mr. Arce said.

Stephen Kilmer