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Lexington, MA-based immuno-oncology company Agenus Inc. (AGEN - Free Report) announced that it has dosed the first patient in a phase I/II study on INCAGN1949 for the treatment of patients with solid tumors.

The open-label, dose-escalation part of the study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of INCAGN1949 in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors. This part will also determine the pharmacologically active and/or maximum tolerated dose.

On the other hand, part II of the study will evaluate the recommended dose of INCAGN1949 in multiple tumor types.

Note that INCAGN1949, an anti-OX40 agonist antibody, is being developed in collaboration with Incyte Corporation (INCY - Free Report) . The companies entered into a global alliance in Jan 2015 to discover, develop and commercialize immuno-therapeutics using Agenus’ antibody platforms.

Under the collaboration with Incyte, Agenus is also evaluating an anti-GITR checkpoint antibody – INCAGN1876 – in a phase I/II study for the treatment of solid tumors. In addition, the companies are studying an anti-CTLA-4 antibody – AGEN1884 – in a phase I study for solid tumors.

Meanwhile, Agenus plans to initiate a phase I study on its second anti-CTLA-4 antibody, AGEN2041 in 2017. Moreover, the company’s PD-1 antagonist, AGEN2034, is expected to enter the clinic in the first quarter of 2017. Also, Agenus expects to begin combination studies on AGEN2034 and AGEN1884 for the treatment of second-line tumors in the second half of 2017.

A look at Agenus’ year-to-date share price movement shows that the stock has dropped 9.3% compared to the 23.2% decline for the Zacks categorized Medical/Biomedical Genetics industry.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Agenus currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Cambrex Corporation (CBM - Free Report) and Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (VNDA - Free Report) . Both stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Cambrex’s earnings estimates increased from $2.46 to $2.55 for 2016 and from $2.91 to $3.06 for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted a positive earnings surprise in three of the four trailing quarters with an average beat of 19.78%.

Vanda’s loss estimates narrowed from 68 cents to 56 cents for 2016, while its earnings estimates increased from 16 cents to 17 cents for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted a positive earnings surprise in three of the four trailing quarters with an average positive surprise of 56.65%.

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