AEMD Looking At Melanoma
Brian Marckx, CFA
Aethlon (AEMD) noted in a press release yesterday (6/11/12) that based on findings from a study led by Cornell University and just published in the (online version) journal Nature, that the company may pursue a melanoma treatment study that has been proposed by a (unnamed) U.S. cancer research institute.
The Cornell study found that exosomes released by melanoma cancer cells facilitated the spread of the disease throughout the body and to other organs and bones. There was also a predictive relationship between exosome levels and severity of cancer with late-stage (IV) patients presenting with much greater exosomes levels compared to earlier stage patients. This indicates that removal of exosomes from circulation could reduce progression of the deleterious effects of melanoma to other parts of the body and potentially improve patient outcomes. Aethlon has previously demonstrated in pre-clinical testing that their Hemopurifier can capture exosomes from patients with late-stage melanoma.
Melanoma, the incidence of which is growing rapidly, is the most deadly form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 4% of all skin cancer cases. Melanoma can be lethal, especially if it penetrates the lowest skin layer and enters the lymph system. Statistics show that five-year survivability is as high as 97% if melanoma if diagnosed and treated at its earliest stage (IA) but this drops precipitously as the disease progresses. As such, a device that could effectively treat these late-stage melanoma patients would have massive appeal, not just in the U.S. but worldwide.
U.S. Melanoma Survivability by Disease Stage
Source: American Cancer Society
Dramatically Escalating Incidence of Melanoma
Incidence of Melanoma in U.S.
As a melanoma study is still in the early proposal stage and Aethlon remains focused on the near-term opportunities with HCV and the DARPA contract, management does not currently have a timeline when a melanoma study may commence. We noted previously in our coverage of Aethlon that we view the company's cancer program as more of a work in progress relative to HCV but potentially offering a longer-term opportunity. This proposed melanoma study could potentially speed the cancer program along, although still likely to be more of a back-burner application as Aethlon pursues their near-term endeavors. Nonetheless, we view this as a positive development, potentially offering another opportunity for Aethlon and their Hemopurifier.
Please visit Brian Marckx's coverage page at scr.zacks.com for a free copy of the full AEMD research report.