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Endocyte, Inc. (ECYT - Snapshot Report) recently joined forces with Nihon Medi-Physics for developing and commercializing companion imaging diagnostic etarfolatide (EC20).

Under this exclusive license agreement, Endocyte and Nihon Medi-Physics will together  develop and commercialize the companion imaging diagnostic etarfolatide for cancer indications in Japan. In addition to an initial upfront payment, Endocyte is entitled to receive milestone payments as well as royalties on etarfolatide sales in Japan.

Endocyte will seek approval for the use of etarfolatide in determining patients who will most likely respond to Endocyte's folate receptor (FR)-targeting mall molecule drug conjugate (SMDC), vintafolide.

In 2012, Endocyte had submitted a marketing authorization application (MAA) seeking approval for vintafolide for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. The company is also seeking EU approval for etarfolatide. Both candidates were granted orphan drug status in the EU in 2012. The company expects a decision from the European Commission on both candidates in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Etarfolatide and vintafolide are currently being evaluated in the phase III PROCEED trial (platinum resistant ovarian cancer) and the phase IIb TARGET trial in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, respectively. Endocyte completed enrollment in the phase IIb TARGET study with top-line data from the study expected in the first quarter of 2014. In the first half of 2014, Endocyte expects to complete enrollment in the phase III PROCEED study.

This deal brings together Endocyte's different approach to personalized medicine and Nihon Medi-Physics’ single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging in Japan.

Endocyte carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Stocks that currently look attractive include Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB - Analyst Report)), GileadSciences Inc. (GILD - Analyst Report) and Affymetrix Inc. (AFFX - Analyst Report). All three carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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