Innate Immunotherapeutics offers hope for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients


Transcription of Finance News Network Interview with Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited (ASX:IIL) Managing Director, Simon Wilkinson
Natalie MacDonald: Hello I’m Natalie MacDonald for the Finance News Network. Joining me now from Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited (ASX:IIL) is Managing Director, Simon Wilkinson. Simon welcome to FNN.
Simon Wilkinson: Thank you, it’s great to be here and have the opportunity to share our story.
Natalie MacDonald: Firstly can you start with an introduction to the company?
Simon Wilkinson: We’re an Australian biotechnology company. The company was formed in 2000 in Auckland New Zealand, but we migrated the company over here in 2013. The company did an IPO in the latter part of 2013 and we raised $10 million and listed on the ASX, immediately after that. That IPO was cornerstoned by the Sydney investment fund, Australian Ethical. They came in with $3 million of the $10 million we raised. And also our major US shareholder, Congressman Chris Collins, strongly supported the IPO as well. So what is our business? We are developing a drug for Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Natalie MacDonald: Now to your leading drugs candidate MIS416, targeting Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Simon, how does it work?
Simon Wilkinson: Our drug is an immune modulator, which is a bit of a mouthful. It’s probably better to look at what Secondary Progressive MS and then we can say, how our drug is working in those patients. So people with Secondary Progressive MS have an advanced form of Multiple Sclerosis. In MS what happens is that the myelin inside the brain, which is the insulation around the nerves inside the brain, is attacked and breaks down. So in those patients, the brain is no longer able to communicate effectively around the body.
What our drug does is it gets inside the brain; it has an anti-inflammatory effect inside the brain. And it also up-regulates the body’s own natural tissue repair functions. So for people with Secondary Progressive MS, we’re getting an anti-inflammatory effect and we’re also enabling the body to better repair that damage, that’s taken place inside the brain.
Natalie MacDonald: What phase are you at in the trial process?
Simon Wilkinson: We’ve had an exciting week this week. On Wednesday, we announced that the trial that we’re running successfully, has recruited all 90 patients that we need. In actual fact, we recruited 93 at the end of the day. The trial is a Phase 2B efficacy trial. So this is an important trial to test really, does this drug work in these patients? The trial has been underway for about 12 months. Now that we’ve recruited all the patients we need, we know that the trial will be finished this time next year. And we expect to be able to release a top-level analysis of the results, about three months after the end of the trial. So that will be in about the third quarter of next year.
Natalie MacDonald: What happens then at the end of the trial in 12 months time?
Simon Wilkinson: So at the end of the study, we will be able to demonstrate hopefully, that our drug is working very effectively in these patients. We are reasonably confident that the drug is working, because we’ve actually been quietly treating patients on a compassionate basis in New Zealand, for the last several years. And the majority of those patients continue to report, significant improvement with drug therapy. So we’ve got a lot of pharma companies, big pharmaceutical companies very keenly awaiting the outcome of this trial. There are no drugs approved to treat people with Secondary Progressive MS. And so there’s understandable interest amongst big pharma companies to look for opportunities, to partner a drug program like ours.
So if I look out to 15 months time when we have a trial result, we expect to be running a competitive bidding process amongst big pharma companies, with a view that one of them will either purchase this program outright, or will licence the program from us. Our expectations around a transaction like that, will have a very significant dollar value and in particular, compared to where the market cap of our company is at the moment.
Natalie MacDonald: Simon Wilkinson, many thanks for the update.
Simon Wilkinson: Thank you and thanks for having me.