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Imugene stacks up $53.2m for cancer-fighting mission

Updated: Apr 19

Imugene has plenty of cash for its upcoming clinical trials. Credit: File

Cancer fighter Imugene has positioned itself as one of the most cashed-up med-tech companies 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 last month that it had shored up its $35 million placement through strong interest and support from Australian and international investors, including specialist biotech institutional investors, and now the SPP brings its total raise to $53.2 million.

The company recently entered into an agreement with Precision Biosciences to acquire a worldwide exclusive license for its off-the-shelf cell therapy CAR T drug “Azer-cel”, which can treat and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Imugene says its treatment has been designed to inject healthy, “super-charged” cells into a patient, before setting them loose to try and track down and kill cancer.

The clinical-stage immuno-oncology company is developing a range of new treatments that seek to activate the immune system in cancer patients to identify and eradicate tumours. Azer-cel is aimed at attacking blood cancers where a patient who has been both a donor and a recipient of treated cells has relapsed following previous CAR T-cell therapy.

I want to thank our existing shareholders for their support of the SPP on behalf of the Board and management of Imugene. With a portfolio of world-class assets, backed by an outstanding balance sheet, Imugene is well placed to continue its development and provide shareholder value to our loyal investors in due course. Imugene executive chairman Paul Hopper

Its new licence acquisition from Precision gives it four unique platforms to maximise opportunities in cancer treatment and also has the potential to combine with the company’s “onCARlytics” program to form the foundation of a new approach to cell therapy.

In return for the worldwide license, Precision will receive an US$8 million (AU$12.6 million) upfront payment, in addition to US$13 million (AU$20.4 million) in a deferred consideration on closing. Industry-standard royalties on potential net sales will also be applied.

In addition to the license rights, Imugene will also acquire the lease to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in North Carolina, drug material for completion of a phase-1b clinical trial and a highly-experienced cell therapy and manufacturing team of about 50 personnel. Importantly, the deal includes one of the most extensive data packages for a product of its kind, with more than 84 patients treated.

The company has the potential to start a registrational study next year and become the first approved allogeneic CAR T cell therapy for cancer with Azer-cel.

Earlier this month, management received positive feedback from the United States Food and Drug Administration on its proposed trials and commercial manufacture of Azer-cel to treat patients with certain blood cancers.

The company says the discussions with the FDA is a significant boost for its ambition to provide the lucrative health industry’s first approved off-the-shelf CAR T-cell cancer therapy. It plans to now test the proposed commercial Azer-cel product in pivotal clinical trials next year.

With plenty of cash to splash on its upcoming trials, Imugene is clearly poised to ramp up its fight against cancer.

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