Argos Therapeutics’ loss widens as R&D spending increases

Durham-based Argos Therapeutics reported a widening quarterly loss Monday as the company boosts research and development spending in connection with testing its lead experimental drug on hundreds of patients.

The company reported a $20 million loss in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $15 million in the same three-month period a year earlier. Third quarter revenue slipped to $158,349 from $398,615. The decline was the result of reduced payments from a federal contract for HIV research.

Argos, a 15-year-old company with 130 employees and no drugs on the market, is developing a suite of personalized immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases. Such therapies target the specific genetic makeup of the cancer based on the patient’s genetic code.

Argos’s lead candidate, AGS-003, is under development to treat metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The personalized immunotherapy treatment uses a patient’s own tumor tissue and blood cells to attack the cancer.

Argos said Monday that during the third quarter it has reached its enrollment goal for a major test of AGS-003, recruiting at least 450 patients for a clinical trial.

The company also created a scientific advisory board with oncologists and immunologists to help advise Argos on further development potential of AGS-003.

As of Sept. 30, Argos had $23.1 million cash and equivalents to finance operations. That’s down from $56.2 million at the end of 2014.

Argos has reported numerous developments this year, including the raising of $43.7 million in a February public stock offering. The company’s source of revenue had previously been federal research funding for HIV research.

Argos is developing AGS-004 for the treatment of HIV under a research contract with the National Institutes of Health. The medication is in a clinical trial using about a dozen patients at UNC Chapel Hill. The goal of this study is the eradication of the HIV virus entirely and a first in medical science.

The company’s stock closed at $4.03, down 24 cents. Shares are down about 60 percent this year.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski