Cardio3, Celyad and Basketball Analogies

On top of news that Cardio3 is preparing to IPO on a US exchange and recent news that they’ve received USPTO allowance for a patent covering their CAR-T approach, we’ll soon have to bid farewell to the company that brought us all this progress. The reason is seemingly innocuous: they’re changing their name to Celyad.

In an earlier post, I had opined/speculated/guessed:

Therefore, it does come as a surprise to see a company called Cardio3 slowly morph into an equal part oncology company. Again, perhaps this is prudent by management. However, long term followers of biotechnology companies will recognize this as the possible first move in a classic Biotech Pivot (Tm). The rules of the Biotech Pivot state that as the day of judgment nears on your lead product, mentions of other pipeline efforts shall increase.

So is Cardio3 executing the Biotech Pivot? Or is this simply prudent management by an experienced team? A prediction is that the March 2015 analysis is benign and that the company continues Chart-1 as is and that Chart-2 enrollment is extremely slow for the first half of 2015. And, luckily for investors, there will be plenty of talk on the CAR-T side to keep them busy… or distracted.

Today’s news suggests that, perhaps, the pivot is well underway. It should not be too surprising, especially considering that the company’s foray into the US exchanges is looking to capitalize on investor sentiment towards immunotherapy approaches in oncology. The field is hot and patient responses can be rapid and remarkable, and a "cardio" label may not have been the best way to ride the wave. That said, it will be interesting to observe their approach to the legacy cardiovascular program. It was recently announced that Chart-1 passed an interim futility analysis. This isn’t too surprising, as my understanding is that these analyses provide a large breadth for the interim results to drive through. Going forward, outsiders are unlikely to have any further updates on Cardio3/Celyad’s Chart-1 trial until its 2016 data release. However, savvy observers can track the pace of Chart-2 advancement as a surrogate of Chart-1 progress.

Perhaps it is too early to suggest that Cardio3 is in full pivot, but it sure looks like the company is about to pick up its dribble.