A biotechnology company with operations in America and Europe, Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU) deals with the development of cancer immunotherapies targeting B-cell peptide vaccines. The company’s product pipeline comprises of multiple immunotherapy B-cell vaccine candidates aimed at treating a wide range of cancers in combination with standard of care drugs and emerging immunotherapies.
Imugene is the market pioneer and leader in B-cell peptide cancer vaccines. Currently, the company has the most advanced B-cell peptide cancer vaccines clinical program in the industry. These vaccines trigger the immune system of the patient to generate pAbs (polyclonal antibodies).
The B cell-based antibodies have distinct advantages to existing treatments. The B-cell Vaccines offer a unique opportunity to intervene at multiple points in the immune system and create immune memory, which enhances the durability of response.
The B-cell derived antibodies are better than the monoclonal antibodies as they are potentially safer, reduces risk of resistance and potentially increases efficacy, produces a lasting immune response to inhibit tumour recurrence, requires low numbers of vaccinations per year and have a low cost of production enabling greater pricing flexibility facilitating combination.
B-cell peptide cancer vaccines Pipeline
- HER-Vaxx - It is designed to treat tumours that over-express the HER-2/neu (a well-known and validated cancer target) receptor, such as gastric, breast, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers. It is a multi-epitope vaccine for HER-2/neu-associated cancers.
- B-Vaxx - This vaccine is also created to deal with tumours that over-express the HER-2/neu receptor. However, in this case, two B-cell epitopes obtained from the extracellular domain of HER-2/neu are used to develop the immunotherapy.
- PD1-Vaxx - This B-cell peptide cancer vaccine intends to stimulate the body to produce polyclonal antibodies that block PD-1 signalling, generating an anticancer effect. A single B-cell epitope obtained from the extracellular domain of PD-1 (KEY-Vaxx) is used to develop the immunotherapy.
As indicated in the above figure, Imugene has also used the combination of PD-1 and HER-2 vaccine, as combining drugs for a better immuno-oncology outcome is driving value creation. The PD-1/HER-2 combination has the potential to increase response rates in HER-2+ cancers.
Apart from the above-mentioned cancer vaccines, Imugene has in-licensed several other B-cell peptide cancer vaccines from Ohio State University (OSU) that can prevent tumour growth, including clinical programmes that target VEGF, HER-1, IGF-1R, HER-3 and CD28. The company has the ability to advance these programs at any point.
Recently, the company announced its Quarterly Activities and Cash Flow Report for the quarter ending 31st March 2019. Apart from delivering strong progress in relation to its clinical trials during the quarter, the company showed a robust balance sheet with a cash balance of $21 million at 31st March 2019.
Traditionally, cancer treatment options included surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. However, immunotherapy is rapidly evolving now and widely regarded as the 5th pillar of treatment. With strong interest in the sector, Imugene‘s products have the potential to outperform existing treatments.
The company’s stock closed the day’s trade at AUD 0.018, up by 5.88% (as on 30th May 2019). The stock has generated a return of 42.95 per cent in the last five years.