ESSA Pharma Up on ASCO News

This is always an exciting time of the year for biotechs in the cancer space, with the annual American Society for Clinical Oncology meeting coming up June 2-6 in Chicago, Illinois. Investors are looking for promising data that can drive a stock higher due to some clinical results being disclosed. Shares of ESSA Pharma, Inc. (TSX:EPI)(NASDAQ:EPIX) are on the rise Thursday positioning the drugmaker as one of the best performing Canadian stocks on news of a poster presentation coming at ASCO.

ESSA is focused on developing small molecules to treat prostate cancer, a notoriously slow progressing disease in need of new treatments free of unpleasant side effects like those available today. The company will be presenting an abstract on the Phase 1 portion of a Phase 1/2 of EPI-506 for end-stage patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The abstract data dates back to January 31, which was the deadline for ASCO submissions.

The early stage trial is an open-label, dose escalation study primarily for the purpose of evaluating safety of EPI-506 with efficacy being measured to determine the optimal dose for the latter part of this and future studies. Only minor PSA declines were demonstrated in 3 of 18 patients through January, although the dosing level had been at sub-therapeutic levels. Subsequent higher doses are reaching the targeted therapeutic range, so investigators will be looking for improved changes in PSA while monitoring safety and tolerability of the drug candidate.

Toronto-listed shares of ESSA have sunk from a high of $4.60 in March to a low this week of $2.30. The news today has provided a lift to the stock, with shares trading ahead 16.5% at $2.83 as of 1 PM EDT.