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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Dynavax, ImmunoCellular, Celldex and Medgenics

We are in the midst of another ImmunoCellular lovefest, timed perfectly to coincide with an expected safety/futility look at the ongoing phase II study of ICT-107 later this quarter. [An analysis that will tell us nothing important about ICT-107, by the way.] Read the Seeking Alpha articles touting the company's experimental brain cancer vaccine or search $IMUC on Twitter to capture a feel for the day-trading buzz.

If your thing is short-term trading, then play with ImmunoCellular, by all means. But if you're interested in fundamentals or investing in ImmunoCellular, then understand there's absolutely nothing new here. Everything being said about the company and its brain cancer vaccine today is a rehash from last summer and countless times before that.

As I said, sometime in the first quarter, ImmunoCellular is expected to announce the results of a futility/safety analysis from the ongoing phase II study of ICT-107. I will tell you right now what this announcement from the company will say:

"An independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee conducted an interim analysis and found no adverse events to warrant changes in the ICT-107 phase II study. The committee recommended that study continue to progress to a final analysis, which we anticpated taking place in late 2013."

This press release will be fundamentally useless in determining anything real about ICT-107's chances for success but it will probably be worth a buck or two in upside to ImmunoCellular's stock price -- maybe even more in this frothy biotech market.

This is why traders are talking up the stock now. Don't be surprised to read more wildly bullish stories and tweets about the company in the coming days and weeks before the expected safety/futility analysis of the ICT-107 study.

If you're an investor, not a trader, and are interested in understanding ICT-107, then please don't forget the only data we have to date on the cancer vaccine comes from a phase I single-arm study of 16 (!) patients -- all enrolled at the same hospital.

Updated results from this study were reported last June showing a four-year survival rate of 50%, with 38% of patients reporting no tumor growth for 48-66 months. ImmunoCellular claims these results are favorable compared to a "historic" mean overall survival of 12% after four years.
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