The Imugene share price just leapt 10%. Here's why the ASX biotech stock is rocketing

Imugene shares are rising fast on Monday.

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Group of Imugene scientists cheering in the lab after the company received another patent for HER-Vaxx

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The Imugene Ltd (ASX: IMU) share price is soaring higher today.

Shares in the ASX biotechnology company closed on Friday trading for 4.8 cents. At the time of writing, shares are changing hands for 5.3 cents apiece, up 10.4%.

For some context, the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) is up 0.2% at this same time.

Here's what's spurring ASX investor interest today.

What's piquing ASX investor interest?

The Imugene share price is off to the races after the clinical-stage immuno-oncology company released a positive update on an ongoing clinical trial.

Imugene's Phase 1 MAST (Metastatic Advanced Solid Tumours) trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of novel cancer-killing virus CF33-hNIS (VAXINIA).

The trial commenced in May 2022. Management expects it to run for around 24 months, with funding coming from existing budgets and resources.

Patients in the study are given either CF33-hNIS alone, or in combination with pembrolizumab, either intravenously or intratumorally.

Among the early results that look to be stirring up excitement, Imugene reported that six patients with gastrointestinal cancers who received CF33-hNIS alone – including 2 colorectal cancer, 2 bile duct, 1 pancreatic and 1 liver cancer – "showed positive treatment effects", with a disease control rate of 75%.

Commenting on the results sending the Imugene share price sharply higher today, CEO Leslie Chong said, "Phase 1 trials are generally designed to look for safety, tolerability and early response signals to determine the optimal dose for further development."

Chong added:

The early positive response data we are seeing at the mid-dose level in hard-to-treat bile duct cancer suggests that VAXINIA may be a potent anti-cancer drug as we interrogate higher dose levels. With no adverse safety signals, thus allowing us to dose higher, VAXINIA will have a very high therapeutic window which is valuable in oncology drug development.

Overall, the ongoing study aims to recruit cancer patients across some 10 trial sites in the United States and Australia.

Imugene share price snapshot

Despite the welcome lift today, the Imugene share price remains down 61% in 2023.

Shares are down a precipitous 73% over 12 months. Though investors who bought shares five years ago will still be sitting on gains of 170%.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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