Imugene Limited (ASX:IMU) CEO Leslie Chong talks 1H18 and outlook, including progress with the company's lead HER-Vaxx cancer vaccine.
Rachel Jones: Hi I’m Rachel Jones for the Finance News Network, joining me from Imugene (ASX:IMU) is CEO, Leslie Chong. Leslie, welcome back.
Leslie Chong: Thanks for having me.
Rachel Jones: First up, could we start with an introduction to your company?
Leslie Chong: Imugene is an Australian biotech company, we’re squarely in the immuno-oncology space, we’re in the clinic and we have a fairly large pipeline up and coming.
Rachel Jones: Now to your first half 2018 results. What were the highlights?
Leslie Chong: We have been very busy in the first half of 2018. I think of Imugene’s programs into three different clinical developments swim lanes, as it were. So first off we have HER-Vaxx, which is already in the clinic and we have completed our first cohort of patients, so we’re currently in the second cohort. And then next up, is our mimotope platform and we already have identified a candidate, which we’d like to take forward, which is an Anti-PD-1. And then thirdly in the tertiary clinical development, is our arginine modulator, so we’re doing some collaboration with the world famous Baker IDI.
Rachel Jones: Back to your portfolio. Are you able to tell me anymore about HER-Vaxx?
Leslie Chong: HER-Vaxx is an Anti-Her-2 product, it competes in the market with say Herceptin, Perjeta, Kadcyla,which is an Anti-Her-2 franchise out of my former company of Genentech Roche. And so it targets what receptors call Her-2 that proliferates these certain kind of cancers. So HER-Vaxx attacks the same cancer receptors, as those products from Genentech Roche.
Rachel Jones: Could you give us some more detail on mimotopes?
Leslie Chong: Mimotopes are sort of our exciting platform, whereby we can take any existing monoclonal antibody and reverse engineer that and create yet another HER-Vaxx like cancer vaccine. So we’re quite excited about our new-targeted PD-1 mimotope with our B Cell mimotope platform. And we have identified that as a target and we will hurriedly take that into the clinic, and put together a regulatory package.
Rachel Jones: What can you tell me about arginine modulators?
Leslie Chong: Our arginine modulator is a collaboration that we have with Baker IDI. So we’re taking it into the melanoma space, because what we found is that in the tumour microenvironment arginine increase, or decrease in arginine really helps T Cell activity. So T Cell activity helps you get rid of certain kinds of cancer. So we’re quite excited about what that preclinical work will fruit.
Rachel Jones: Now to finances. What’s your cash position and your funding requirements?
Leslie Chong: So I’m happy to report that we had an incredibly successful capital raise, back at the end of 2017. So we’re pretty cashed up and that amount of money will help me progress the HER-Vaxx program, as well as the mimotope and then the arginine as well.
Rachel Jones: And you have a new drug candidate, an anticancer vaccine. What can you tell me about this?
Leslie Chong: We’re pretty excited that our mimotope platform has identified a new cancer target, which is PD-1 and the Anti-PD-1 is currently approved and out in the market, and garners billions of dollars a year. So the market is quite huge, but the opportunity for several different cancer locations is even bigger. So I’m quite excited to take that hurriedly through the preclinical work, so I can put that in the clinic.
Rachel Jones: Last question. What can investors expect over the next six months and what can you expect for news flow?
Leslie Chong: We’ve had a really rich news flow of significant findings in the HER-Vaxx program, as well as the mimotopes. With HER-Vaxx, I’d like to put that into the Phase 2, so we’re working towards within the Phase 1b to get that into the Phase 2 clinical study. And then with the mimotopes, we will be working with the Medical University of Vienna to get that expedited, so that we can put that also into the clinic. And then with arginine, we are as I said earlier, we’re working very closely with Baker IDI and hopefully we’ll have some news flow around that bit, as well.
Rachel Jones: Leslie Chong, thank you very much for the update.
Leslie Chong: Thanks so much for having me.