NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Aduro Biotech is expected to make its public markets debut Thursday with an initial public offering that will value the cancer immunotherapy developer at more than $1 billion. Advaxis (ADXS) - Get Report, a competitor working on similar cancer drugs, sports a valuation roughly half as large, but its stock has moved higher in the past month to close the gap.

Aduro is set to raise $119 million through the sale of 7 million shares at $17 per share. Investor demand for the Aduro IPO is said to be heavy. (The offering size was raised Tuesday from 5 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16 per share.) The stock will trade under the ticker ADRO.

Advaxis shares are up almost 70% since March 13, the day Aduro filed for its IPO. The stock closed Monday up 4% to $20.59. Advaxis hit an all-time high of $21.53 last week.

Image placeholder title

The lead cancer immunotherapy platforms under development by Aduro and Advaxis are similar. Both companies tinker with listeria, a common bacteria, to express proteins found on specific types of tumor cells. The re-engineered listeria is supposed to prime a patient's immune system to identify and kill the targeted cancer cells.

Both companies also believe combining their respective listeria-based "vaccines" with additional therapies -- traditional chemotherapy or other immunotherapies -- offers the best chance of an effective tumor-killing response.

Aduro is conducting a phase IIb study in which metastatic pancreatic cancer patients are being treated with a combination of the company's lead pipeline product CRS-207 plus another experimental cancer vaccine known as GVAX. The study is randomized into three arms, with pancreatic cancer patients receiving the CRS-207/GVAX combination, CRS-207 alone or physician's choice of currently approved chemotherapies. Overal survival is the primary endpoint.

TST Recommends

Enrollment in the Aduro study is expected to complete in the third quarter, with top-line results ready in the first half of next year.

In a previously conducted phase II study, pancreatic cancer patients treated with the CRS-207/GVAX combination lived longer than patients treated with GVAX alone. Results from this study, which were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last January, convinced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to award Breakthrough Therapy Designation status to the CRS-207/GVAX combination in pancreatic cancer.

Aduro is also exploring the combination of CRS-207 plus chemotherapy as a treatment for mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer. A third approach under development will combine CRS-207, GVAX and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY) - Get Report PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo in pancreatic cancer. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report is an Aduro partner on a prostate cancer program, while more recently, Novartis (NVS) - Get Report licensed a different cancer immunotherapy technology.

Advaxis is developing three immunotherapy products that pair listeria with different cancer targets -- human papillomavirus (HPV), prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and HER-2, often associated with breast cancer.

The company and Merck (MRK) - Get Report are working together on a phase II study which combined ADXS-PSA and Keytruda in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. An Advaxis collaboration with AstraZeneca (AZN) - Get Report involves a combination of ADXS-PSA with MEDI 4736 (an anti-PD-L1) in patients with head and neck cancer. Advaxis also has ongoing partnerships with the Gynecological Oncology Group and Aratana Therapeutics.

Advaxis will be presented data on its listeria-based cancer immunotherapy platform at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting taking place April 18 to 22.

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.