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Imugene locks down cancer patent in massive Chinese market

Imugene has received patent protection for its cancer treatment in China. Credit: File

Australian anti-cancer company Imugene (ASX: IMU) has received a patent to protect its unique cancer treatment in China – the largest and most lucrative pharmaceutical market in Asia. The patent protects the method of composition and use of its licensed oncolytic virotherapy in China up to 2037 and follows previous grants in both Japan and South Korea.

Imugene’s “oncolytic virotherapy” known as CF33 VAXINIA is designed to both selectively kill tumour cells and activate the immune system against cancer cells, with the potential to improve clinical response and survival.

It is part of a current push in the biotechnology world to embrace what is known as “immunotherapy” where a patient’s own immune system is enhanced and effectively turbo-charged to ward off harmful diseases.

The Chinese patent protection covers Imugene’s VAXINIA (CF33-hNIS) and CHECKvacc (CF33-hNIS-antiPDL1) treatments.

CF33 is a combination of genomic sequences from multiple vaccinia virus strains to generate a new, safer and more potent virus. When coupled with the human sodium-iodide symporter (hNIS) gene, which enables imaging to track the virus in vivo and mediate targeted radiotherapy, it is called VAXINIA. Arming the VAXINIA with anti-PD-L1 genes, enabling the enhancement of anti-cancer immunotherapy, is called CHECKVacc.

The company says safety has been demonstrated in several pre-clinical trials and there is evidence for both a local and systemic anti-tumour response. Its clinical trial is ongoing to further assess dose escalation, tumour response and tumour microenvironment changes at later stages of therapy and higher dose levels.

Imugene receiving these patent grants for the CF33 family of oncolytic viruses is a crucial step forward and with China, Japan, and South Korea being the largest healthcare markets in Asia, this is a particularly important patent milestone.
Imugene managing director and chief executive officer Leslie Chong

CF33 was originally developed by Professor Yuman Fong at the world-renowned City of Hope – one of the biggest cancer research treatment organisations in the United States.

Noitably, Imugene has been selected to present its VAXINIA technology at the 2024 Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Annual Conference in Utah.

The company’s presentation will explain why its treatment may be an effective and safe option to manage “cholangiocarcinoma” – an aggressive form of cancer that occurs in the bile ducts. Management says early detection of cholangiocarcinoma is challenging and because of its aggressiveness, the prognosis for the disease can be poor, making research and advancements in treatment essential.

In September last year, Imugene positioned itself as one of the most cashed-up biotechs on the ASX after raising a further $18.2 million from a share placement plan (SPP) to add to a previous $35 million placement.

Management revealed it had shored up its $35 million placement through strong interest and support from Australian and international investors, including specialist biotech institutional investors. With the SPP, it took its total raise to $53.2 million.

Imugene believes that together with leading specialists and medical professionals, its immuno-oncology therapies will in time prove to be foundation treatments for cancer.

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