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By Nigel Somerville, the Deputy Sheriff of AIM | Sunday 11 March 2018
Disclosure: I own shares in one or more of the stocks mentioned. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
I admit it: this has been a very poor tip, dating way back to the ShareProphets Christmas/New Year tipfest at the end of 2014 when I offered AIM-listed Scancell (SCLP) at 31.75p. Much of what I was looking for came to pass - apart, that is, from an offer for the company or one of its cancer-busting platforms. And a few things went wrong.
The company has two platforms – Scib and Modi – which can be programmed to trigger the patients own immune system to attack cancers. The most advanced play is the Scib-1 treatment, which has been through a Phase I/II trial and produced some pretty stunning results in my view. Survival rates amongst patients whose prognosis was pretty poor surpassed expectations but unfortunately the treatment ran out of shelf time, leaving surviving patients rather in the lurch. So it seemed a good treatment, but a black mark against the company – which to some may have seemed a tad unfair because its success had rather caused the problem.
Then we saw the company running low on cash and a pulled placing, with the replacement funding at a much lower price. The share price bottomed at just 10p.
However, we have seen new management come in, operations set up in the US, and we now have a combination therapy for Scib-1 going into the trial lab later this year in the US, Scib-2 going into Phase I/II trials (managed and, critically, funded by Cancer Research UK), the first Modi treatment going into the clinic early next year, Modi-2 is going into pre-clinical work this year and a collaboration with BioNTech has been announced.
In other words, Scancell is offering much more promise, and has attracted external funding which will help enormously and the share price has moved very strongly since the start of February, rising from 10p to close last week at 18.35p. It would be pleasing to report on…but for the other 14p needed to get back to where I started.
So what’s next?
Well, Hardman Research put out a report on 15 February which you can read HERE. The immediate concern seems to be where the next round of funding comes from – something made rather easier by the recent share price rise. My hope is that cash will surface from the other side of the pond – I know that one of the biggest changes has been the focus on the US, where there are a lot more people with cash for projects like Scancell’s than we have over here. The recent tie ups with CRUK and BioNTech will help too – not just paying the bills, but providing significant endorsements.
Hardman reckons Scancell will need £10 million, and that we should start seeing trial results coming through in the first half of next year. As always, the thing I’m looking for is one of the bigger pharmas coming in with an offer. It hasn’t happened yet, but good results will surely add to that possibility coming to pass.
So far from having given up hope, my shares are still lurking in the bottom drawer. It has been a long and unprofitable road so far, but I remain optimistic. Will we see the big breakthorugh this year? I'm not so sure, but next year looks promising.
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