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Peregrine Pharma's Lung Cancer Drug: Boffo Survival Benefit, But How Real?

If bavituximab truly doubles lung-cancer survival in the second-line setting, the drug should demonstrate a similar benefit in the front line.

Peregrine's first-line lung cancer study also enrolled roughly half its patients from Eastern Europe and India, so the same need to show geographic consistency applies.

A previously reported single-arm study of bavituximab plus carboplatin/paclitaxel in 49 first-line lung cancer patients -- all recruited from India -- reported an overall response rate of 43%, median progression-free survival of 6.1 months and a median overall survival of 12.4 months.

Comparing across trials is problematic, but it does seem strange that bavituximab is producing a lung cancer survival benefit in the second line (12.1 months) equivalent to the first line (12.4 months). One possible explanation, of course, is that the patients enrolled in the second-line study presented Friday aren't really second-line patients.

One more question regarding bavituximab's purported mechanism of action: If the drug is indeed an immune-stimulatory anticancer drug, shouldn't there be clinical data related to immune response and/or associated toxicity? I can't recall seeing any such data.

Peregrine is holding a conference call Monday morning to discuss Friday's bavituximab data. Peregrine shares closed Friday up $1.43, or 47%, to $4.50.

-- Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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