Immutep Limited (ASX:IMM) CEO, Marc Voigt talks about the company's FY18 results, success with its clinical trial program, collaboration partners and outlook.
Rachael Jones: Hello I’m Rachael Jones for the Finance News Network. Joining me today from Berlin is Immutep Limited (ASX:IMM) CEO, Marc Voigt. Mark, welcome back.
Marc Voigt: Hello, great to meet you again.
Rachael Jones: Immutep is developing novel immunotherapy treatments for cancer and also autoimmune disease. Can you tell us more about this?
Marc Voigt: Indeed Immutep is the worldwide leader when it comes to a very important immune checkpoint, which is LAG-3, or Lymphocyte Activation Gene-3. And we have the strongest footprint as a biotech company.
Rachael Jones: Now to your financial year 2018 results. What were the highlights, starting with the operations?
Marc Voigt: We presented the data in May 2018. For instance data from the TACTI-mel, our trial in metastatic melanoma, where we test a combination of Keytruda plus Eftilagimod alpha. And we believe that this data, even though it was interim data, so not yet final, it was quite exciting. And also, we made another important business development transaction, so beside clinical trial, corroboration and supply agreement with Merck & Co Inc. (NYSE:MRK), US Merck, I should say. And of course, this is then the basis for a new clinic trial, which will start second half of this year.
Rachael Jones: How about your financials?
Marc Voigt: For a biotech company, the financials are very often less exciting than in other industries. But I think it’s remarkable that we were able to have above AUD$7 million, in revenues and other income. So we collected milestone payments from our partners, Novartis (NYSE:NVS), as well as from Eddingpharm Inc. I think the operational expenses and G&A has been in line with our expectations. So I think it’s quite good and we are on a robust cash fundament. So we have more than AUD$22 million cash on bank, which puts us in a very solid financial position.
Rachael Jones: Can you bring us up to date with some of your product candidates, starting with AIPAC?
Marc Voigt: AIPAC is our biggest clinical trial at 226 patients double blind randomised placebo controlled setting, for metastatic breast cancer. The combination of Eftilagimod plus standard of care PAClitaxel. This clinical trial has reached its mid point, in terms of recruitment in June and we expect first results, already in the next year.
Rachael Jones: What can you tell me about the TACTI-002?
Marc Voigt: This is another exciting clinical trial, which we do in collaboration with Merck. So Keytruda plus Eftilagimod, so an IO, so-called IO combination study. And there we will test in first line non-small cell lung cancer, second line non-small cell lung cancer. As well as in second line head and neck cancer, combination of the two mentioned products, or product candidates. And we expect this clinical trial to start, likely in the fourth quarter this year. One other important point in terms of TACTI-002 is that we will be active, clinically active in the United States. So we have successfully applied for the IND, it was granted in July. That’s great and provides us with a better opportunity to be clinically visible in the United States.
Rachael Jones: Can you also talk to me about TACTI-mel?
Marc Voigt: TACTI-mel, our clinical trial in metastatic melanoma, in Australia we fully recruited that clinical trial. So all the 24 patients have been recruited, we presented very encouraging interim results, end of May. And we will provide an update, data update, in first quarter this year as well. And of course, TACTI-mel was the basis for the collaboration with Merck. So in general, it’s a very exciting phase one clinical trial.
Rachael Jones: Just finally, is there anything that we haven’t covered?
Marc Voigt: Just in general as a short outlook, we will have a very data heavy year 2019, as well as the remainder of 2018. We should also not forget about our pre-clinical agonist antibody, which we mentioned autoimmune diseases, also a very exciting program I believe. And in general, there will be a number of important updates and hopefully events. So we are very much looking forward to the future development of Eftilagimod. But also from our partners, so GSK (LON:GSK) provided an update in July and Novartis is in clinical development. So there will be a lot of talking points in the year and midterm.
Rachael Jones: Marc Voigt, thanks for the update and congratulations with your progress.
Marc Voigt: Thank you so much, was a pleasure.