Ongoing clinical trial for cancer therapy yielding positive results

Cellectar Biosciences is reporting positive results in an ongoing clinical trial for the company’s lead cancer drug candidate.

Meanwhile, year-end numbers for 2018 show net loss was about the same as the previous year, while research and development costs are down by nearly a third.

In a cohort of patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the body’s plasma cells, Cellectar’s therapy resulted in a 30 percent overall response rate in 10 patients. That means levels of a certain cancer marker decreased by 30 percent in that group.

In that same cohort, individuals had varying levels of response. One patient had a “very good” partial response, defined as 90 percent or greater decrease in the cancer marker. Two patients had their markers decrease by between 50 and 89 percent.

These patients received one 30-minute infusion of the drug in a smaller dose than is currently being explored in a separate clinical trial. That same dosage has previously achieved a similarly positive response rate in patients with a different type of cancer, according to a release.

“This represents the second cohort of patients who have demonstrated encouraging responses to our lead drug candidate while receiving suboptimal single doses,” said James Caruso, president and CEO of Madison-based Cellectar.

Along with the latest clinical trial results, Cellectar recently released its financial report for 2018, which shows research and development expenses for last year totaled $6.8 million. That’s down 28 percent from 2017, when $9.5 million was spent on R&D.

The report attributes that decrease to the company’s decision to close its manufacturing facility and outsource all of its manufacturing.

General and administrative expenses for last year totaled $4.8 million, compared to $4.1 million for 2017. The 17 percent increase is attributed to increased costs for accounting, investor relations personnel.

Net loss for 2018 was $15.5 million, or $5.23 per share. Last year, net loss was $15 million, or $10.70 per share.

As of the end of last year, Cellectar had $13.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, compared to $10.1 million at the end of 2017. That should be enough to carry the company through the first quarter of 2020, according to the release.

Caruso says more clinical trial data will be available later this year. In the meantime, he says Celectar “will continue to aggressively enroll patients and dose at higher levels that have the potential to generate increased efficacy.”

Every patient in this group demonstrated stable cancer levels, which lead investigator Natalie Callender says is meaningful for patients with late-stage cancers.

“The results from this cohort are impressive,” said Callender, who is also director of the UW Carbone Cancer Center Myeloma Clinical Program. “The high response rates, combined with a significant reduction in surrogate markers of disease with a single, one-time infusion of CLR 131, have the potential to make this drug attractive to patients in later lines of therapy.”

See a story on Cellectar from earlier this year:


–By Alex Moe