Here's Why Celldex Therapeutics Sank on Friday

What happened

Shares of Celldex Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CLDX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel new cancer therapies, slipped 13% on Friday. There wasn't any news specific to the company today -- it just fell along with the rest of the industry.

So what

Celldex Therapeutics hasn't had much to say to investors since presenting pre-clinical data in November. The stock slid along with the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which dropped 11% this week.

If we've learned anything this year, it's that combining immunotherapies doesn't work nearly as often as was expected a couple years ago. Investors losing faith in the combination approach is a problem for Celldex because none of its experimental therapies seem to do much on their own.

Celldex reported results from the first four ascending cohorts in a dose determination study for CDX-1140 in November. The drug is supposed to activate immune responses to cancer, but it looks like Celldex didn't even measure tumors to see if they responded.

CDX-301 helped 5 out of the first 9 advanced-stage lung cancer patients treated in a phase 2 study survive for four months without any signs of disease progression. The candidate was combined with radiation treatment in a single-arm study, so we can't be sure the radiation didn't do all the work.

Now what

The good news for Celldex is that there are still a lot of deep-pocketed pharmaceutical companies eager to pump up their pipelines with oncology assets.

Celldex finished the third quarter with $105.6 million in cash and securities after losing just $7.2 million during the three-month period. That could give the company's early-stage candidates plenty of time to shine before the company needs to ask investors for more capital.

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Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Celldex Therapeutics and Nasdaq. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.