NewLink Genetics Corp., an Ames-based biopharmaceutical company developing cancer-fighting immunotherapy products, reported a net financial loss for the third quarter, due primarily to higher research and development costs as the company's clinical drug trials move forward.


NewLink reported a net loss for quarter of $8.1 million, increasing from $5.9 million for the third quarter of 2012 due to a $1.3 million increase in research and development expense and a $900,000 increase in general and administrative expense, the company said in a release. The per-share loss for the quarter was 32 cents, compared to a 28-cent per share loss in the year-ago period. The company currently has 25.7 million shares outstanding, compared with 20.9 million shares in the third quarter of 2012.


The company achieved a significant milestone during the quarter with the successful enrollment of 722 cancer patients into a Phase 3 clinical trial of one of its pancreatic cancer treatments, algenpantucel-L, Chairman and CEO Charles Link said. That product is one of several the company has in various stages of clinical testing.


NewLink's broad product pipeline includes biologic and small molecule immunotherapy product candidates designed to treat a wide range of cancers treatments either singly or in combination with other treatment regimens.


One of its immunotherapy products, called HyperAcute, stimulates the patient's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, while another approach, called IDO pathway inhibitor platform technology, targets a key immune checkpoint and disrupts mechanisms by which tumors evade the patient's immune system.


"We plan to strengthen our position in IDO pathway inhibition by advancing our first compound, indoximod, further into its clinical development and by bringing our second product candidate, NLG919, to clinic later this year," Link said.


Research and development expense for the third quarter 2013 was $6.1 million, compared with $4.8 million for the third quarter of 2012, due primarily to increases in personnel and clinical trial expenses. NewLink ended the third quarter with cash and cash equivalents totaling $52 million and expects to end the year with more than $40 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.