Immutep (ASX:IMM) CEO, Marc Voigt provides an update on its clinical trials, collaboration with large pharma and what they have planned for 2019.
Rachael Jones: Hello I’m Rachael Jones for the Finance News Network. Joining me from Immutep Limited (ASX:IMM) is CEO, Marc Voigt. Marc, welcome back to FNN.
Marc Voigt: Thank you very much, pleasure to be here.
Rachael Jones: Immutep is a biotech focused on immuno-therapy for cancer and autoimmune disease. What can you tell me about the progress?
Marc Voigt: The progress is going very well. We had a very good year 2018, in both disease areas, immuno-oncology as well as autoimmune diseases. All our programs have been progressing, including the ones we partnered to Novatis Pharmaceutical (SWX:NOVN) and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical (LON:GSK). And we hope for an even better year 2019.
Rachael Jones: Now Marc to your first half 2019 results. What were the highlights?
Marc Voigt: From a business development point of view, I think it’s notable that we entered into a collaboration with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and German Merck & Co (ETR:MRK) in September 2018. That was very good. So we have good traction in terms of business development, good traction in terms of our clinical as well as pre-clinical development. And coming a little bit to the number side of things. We have been at the period ending 2017 we had around about $40 million cash in the bank, at the end of 2018 around about $26 million. So that’s very important for a biotech company that we’re well financed into the future, in fact towards mid of 2020.
Rachael Jones: What can shareholders of Immutep expect for 2019?
Marc Voigt: We should have a good year. So in terms of our lead program candidate eftilagimod alpha, or IMP321, every clinical trial will have either an interim or final readout. So there is a lot of data to expect. Also our pre-clinical product candidate IMP761, where we will present data shortly, is moving forward. And also the partnerships with Novartis and GSK should deliver some data, during the year.
Rachael Jones: With all the data you are expecting to collect this year Marc. What will that mean for the company?
Marc Voigt: If the data is good and of course, we have a robust clinical trial program, so there is a decent chance to see good data. This should of course reflect also in the valuation of the company. And in our business development efforts, our business model is as you may recall, to generate data and then to out-licence to the right parties. And this we’ll try to achieve during the year 2019, in terms of the fundamental robust data.
Rachael Jones: You’re planning on presenting some pre-clinical trial results, at some up and coming conferences soon. What can you tell me about these?
Marc Voigt: Beginning of March, we’re planning to present in Copenhagen at the so-called ECCO Conference, pre-clinical data from the IMP761. We already qualified in September last year that the data is positive, but of course it will be very interesting to see how the details are. And then also we’re planning to present IMP321, or eftilagimod alpha results in San Diego, in terms of TACTI-mel our clinical trial in metastatic melanoma.
Rachael Jones: And your Phase II trial for TACTI-002 is about to commence patient recruitment shortly. What can you tell me about this and about the collaboration with Merck & Co?
Marc Voigt: Indeed it’s a collaboration clinical trial, which we do together with Merck. They supply the drug called KEYTRUDA, so a multimillion-dollar blockbuster and the study is very important. It will start in Australia and the United States, as well as in Europe. And we plan to recruit patients in 1st line non-small cell lung cancer, 2nd line non-small cell lung cancer and 2nd line head and neck cancer. So a variety of different cancer settings, up to 110 patients and it’s a good clinical trial designed set in two stage designs, a very objective way you can run clinical trials.
Rachael Jones: Last question now. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Marc Voigt: There’s a lot going on. Also our Pfizer collaboration clinical trial is expected to commence soon, it’s very important to us. And in general, our principal is the data will define value and this is exactly what we will try to achieve during 2019. And it will be a very busy year for us, good news flow I hope.
Rachael Jones: Marc Voigt, thanks for the update.
Marc Voigt: Thank you very much.