Immutep Limited (ASX:IMM) CEO, Marc Voigt provides an update on the company's 1H20 results, including data from its clinical trials, collaborations with major pharma and outlook for the second half.
Katrina Bullock: Hello. Katrina Bullock for the Finance News Network. And joining me today is Immutep (ASX:IMM) CEO Marc Voigt. Marc, welcome back to the network.
Marc Voigt: Thank you for having me.
Katrina Bullock: Now, Marc, Immutep is, of course, a leader in the development of the LAG-3 protein, which is designed to treat cancer and autoimmune disease. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
Marc Voigt: Sure. And actually I wouldn't consider us as a leader, but the leader in the field, because you wouldn't find any other company, including big pharmaceutical companies, having that many different LAG-3 related products like we have.
And actually our CSO, Professor Frédéric Triebel, discovered LAG-3 back in the early '90s. So, we have two product candidates in immuno-oncology, and two product candidates in autoimmune diseases. So it's a round portfolio, good in terms of risk diversification and many, many catalysts.
Katrina Bullock: Now Marc, I understand that Immutep's reaching a significant milestone. Could you talk us through that?
Marc Voigt: Absolutely right. For our lead product candidate, eftilagimod alpha, or efti, we expect very significant data by the end of this month in a large clinical trial called AIPAC. It's a trial in metastatic breast cancer hormone receptor-positive HER2-negative patients, where we combine eftilagimod together with the standard of care chemotherapy, paclitaxel, versus paclitaxel plus placebo.
So, it's a high-quality clinical trial design which should deliver objective results. And this in terms of progression-free survival, so the time until the tumour grows again, which unfortunately happens, and also overall response rates. So, tumour shrinkage. This is very decisive for the company. We are very confident in terms of the data, and it has a transformative character if positive.
Katrina Bullock: Now, Marc, Immutep's released some positive data for its lead product candidate, efti. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
Marc Voigt: Yes. Indeed, we did that in mid of last October for a trial called TACTI-mel, a combination of anti-PD-1 Keytruda, a multibillion dollar blockbuster drug, plus eftilagimod. Very nice results in terms of activity, as well as in terms of safety, which is important for the patients, of course.
And then, more recently, mid of February at the German Cancer Congress, we have been publishing data for a trial called TACTI-002, which we do together with Merck, or MSD, in non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck cancer. Very nice results with overall response rate of 47 per cent in non-small cell lung cancer. So, roundabout as good as the existing standard of care with very good safety and better safety, and better than Keytruda monotherapy. So, almost double the response rate there for PD-L1 expression, all comer clinical trial. It's a biomarker. I don't go into detail here, but it's a prognostic, the way Keytruda works.
Katrina Bullock: So, Marc, if the results for the AIPAC trial do come back positive, what will that mean for Immutep?
Marc Voigt: It's really transformative. Such a big clinical trial for a company of our size, 226 patients, double-blind, one-to-one randomised. So, a really objective, high-quality clinical trial design would deliver a good answer to the question how effective eftilagimod is in that setting.
And if that answer is positive, and of course we hope for that and we are confident, as our data in the past was consistently good and convincing, I believe, then it would transform the company to a way higher level, I hope, in terms of share price. At least in terms of recognition by the pharmaceutical industry. And of course, it would have a major benefit, and this we shouldn't mention last, a major benefit for the patients in that setting.
It is actually not only a close to market opportunity. So, we may get conditional marketing authorisation in Europe, and we just took action to discuss with the FDA. But also it would be the spearhead indication, metastatic breast cancer, of many other indications to come, many other combinations to come, as we have then a landmark event with this clinical trial being positive.
Katrina Bullock: Now, last question, Marc. Beyond the immediate implications of efti and its impact on metastatic breast cancer, what's ahead for the second half?
Marc Voigt: Also in the second half we have a lot of data points. Also in the remaining of the first half of this year, to be honest. So, it's a conference called ESCO coming up that's a usual stop to report some data. There are other conferences beforehand. There will be conferences thereafter. So, for instance, ESMO, SITC. So big, major medical conferences. Of course, our partners, Novartis and GSK, are working with the product candidates we have been licensing to them. GSK publicly announced that they expect clinical proof of concept for the drug we licensed to them second half of this year. Of course, we hope for news from Novartis, as well, as well as overall news in terms of LAG-3. So there is a lot to come.
Katrina Bullock: Marc, thank you so much for joining us in the studio today, and good luck with the second half.
Marc Voigt: Thank you so much.