Here's why the Starpharma share price just exploded 50%!

This biotech is catching the eye of investors on Wednesday. But why?

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The Starpharma Holdings Ltd (ASX: SPL) share price came rocketing out of the gates this morning.

At one stage, the dendrimer products developer's shares were up as much as 58% to 20.5 cents.

Starpharma's shares have pulled back a touch since then but remain up 35% to 18 cents.

Why is the Starpharma share price rocketing?

Investors have been scrambling to buy the company's shares this morning after it released positive interim results from its phase 1/2 clinical trial of DEP irinotecan.

DEP irinotecan is a novel, patented, nanoparticle formulation of SN38, the active metabolite of the widely used anti-cancer drug, irinotecan (marketed as Camptosar), developed using Starpharma's proprietary DEP technology.

The release notes that the DEP irinotecan data that will be presented at an international conference next month includes encouraging durable signs of efficacy combined with excellent tolerability. This is not only in the irinotecan-approved indication of advanced metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), but also in platinum-resistant/refractory ovarian cancer. Management notes that the latter represents a new market opportunity for Starpharma.

It also highlights that these positive results, including prolonged disease control and significant tumour shrinkage, have been achieved in heavily pre-treated patients who have received an average of up to six prior treatment regimens and 31 cycles and exhausted all available treatment options.

Management commentary

Starpharma's CEO, Dr Jackie Fairley, was pleased with the data. Dr Fairley commented:

We are pleased to report positive results for DEP irinotecan, which has shown promising activity and significantly improved tolerability in advanced colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer. The conference in October is a great opportunity to showcase both DEP irinotecan and the DEP platform more broadly.

Starpharma has received consistent feedback from patients and clinicians indicating that DEP irinotecan represents a better-tolerated treatment option than conventional irinotecan regimens, which are the mainstay chemotherapeutics for colorectal cancer. Advanced colorectal and ovarian cancers both represent significant unmet medical needs. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an increase of about 70% in colorectal cancers globally is expected by 2030.

Despite today's strong gain, the Starpharma share price is down approximately 70% over the last 12 months.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Starpharma. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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