Argos Therapeutics reported a widening loss Tuesday as the company’s renal cancer research activities intensified.
The Durham company said it had “an exceptional year” even as fourth-quarter revenue slipped to $300,000 from $700,000, and its fourth-quarter net loss nearly doubled to $16.2 million in 2014.
Argos has reported numerous developments in recent months, including the raising of $43.7 million in a February public stock offering. The company’s revenue decline is the result of reduced federal research funding – from $4.4 million in 2013, to $2 million last year, down to about $1 million expected in 2015 – as the company’s HIV research has tapered off.
The 15-year-old company, with no drugs on the market, is developing a suite of personalized immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases.
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Argos’s lead candidate, AGS-003, is being evaluated for treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The personalized immunotherapy treatment uses a patient’s own tumor tissue and blood cells to fight off the cancer.
Argos is approaching full enrollment in a Phase 3 clinical trial for AGS-003, enrolling 350 people for a clinical trial that will top out at 450 patients. Results are expected in the second half of 2016, and regulatory approval could come early as 2017 if the drug pans out, said CEO Jeff Abbey.
The company, which is footing the bill for AGS-003 research, saw expenses rise steeply as this drug entered Phase 3 testing on hundreds of people, Abbey said.
Argos work on AGS-004 for the treatment of HIV is under a research contract with the National Institutes of Health. The medication completed a Phase 2 clinical trial last year using 53 people, with the goal of generating an immune response specific to the patient’s virus.
The medication is now beginning another Phase 2 clinical trial using about a dozen patients at UNC Chapel Hill. The goal of this study is the eradication of the HIV virus entirely, which would be a first in medical history.
“If we get a positive result in one patient, it’ll be a game changer,” Abbey said.
Additionally, Argos, with 115 employees, stands to receive $9.5 million in state and local incentives to hire 236 people over three years and build a new manufacturing facility in Durham.
The company’s shares closed Tuesday at $8.91, down 61 cents. The stock is down 11 percent this year.