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Endocyte, Inc. (ECYT - Snapshot Report) recently provided additional data on its diagnostic imaging agent etarfolatide (EC20) which is being evaluated for use in patients with ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Results showed that etarfolatide helps identify patients with ovarian cancer and NSCLC who are more likely to benefit from folate receptor-targeted therapeutics like vintafolide (MK-8109/EC145).

Endocyte said that patients with all target tumor lesions positive as assessed by etarfolatide, FR (100%) showed substantial progression-free survival on vintafolide compared to patients with 10 to 90% of target lesions positive for folate receptor, FR (10-90%).

According to information provided by Endocyte, ovarian cancer is estimated to affect 22,280 new patients in the US and more than 40,000 new patients in the EU.

Vintafolide is currently being evaluated in the phase III PROCEED trial (in women with platinum resistant ovarian cancer) and the phase IIb TARGET trial in NSCLC patients.

Our Take

Endocyte and its partner, Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK - Analyst Report), are looking to get vintafolide approved as a treatment for patients suffering from folate-receptor positive platinum-resistant ovarian cancer in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD). The companies entered into a partnership in Apr 2012.

Under this agreement, Endocyte granted Merck an exclusive license to develop, manufacture and commercialize the candidate.

Endocyte is seeking EU approval for etarfolatide along with vintafolide. Both candidates were granted orphan drug status in the EU in 2012. The company expects a decision from the European Commission on both candidates towards the end of 2013.

We expect investor focus to remain on the regulatory status of vintafolide and etarfolatide.

Endocyte carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Lannett Company, Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report) and QLT Inc. (QLTI - Analyst Report) look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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