Imugene Ltd chairman says the company is ‘stronger than ever’ in a turbulent global market

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The chairman of Imugene Ltd (ASX:IMU, OTC:IUGNF) says the company is “as strong as it has ever been in its history” despite challenges in the global biotech market.

In a letter to shareholders, Australian bio-entrepreneur Paul Hopper said the company was financially strong and continued to thrive, despite changes in the share price from last year’s peak.

Looking ahead, Hopper encouraged investors to keep their eyes peeled for the company’s pipeline as Imugene pursues a series of clinical studies.

The chairman pointed to the company’s strong cash reserves and extensive clinical portfolio as assets that would help it weather the storm.

Imugene shares are up 13.5% following the letter at A$0.227 per share. The company has a market capitalization of approximately A$1.3 billion.

What does the market look like?

Hopper said it’s an understatement to say the biotech industry is living in turbulent times.

“Since December of last year, biotechnology stock prices have fallen dramatically,” the chairman explained.

According to Bloomberg, April was the worst month on record for US biotechnology since at least 1997 and the sector is down about 65% from its peak in February 2021, dropping 22% in April alone.

“Furthermore, investors around the world have been spooked by tensions between Ukraine and Russia, hawkish comments from the US Federal Reserve, stubborn inflation and China’s worsening COVID situation,” he said. said Hopper.

Alto Capital’s Tony Locantro also thinks biotech lacks love.

In an interview with Proactive last month, the stock market commentator explained how global volatility had hit the industry.

Although the instability has impacted IMU’s share price, Hopper says the company remains one of the top three biotech companies in Australia today.

“Storm in a Teacup”

Hopper’s letter comes shortly after some shareholders were spooked by the end of Imugene’s supply deal with MSD.

Earlier this month, the company announced that the agreement had been terminated, but that it was still continuing its HER-Vaxx clinical trial as planned.

Although it did not explain why the deal was struck at the time, Imugene reassured shareholders that the reasoning had nothing to do with its technology, clinical trial design, data of study or security, and that other supply agreements were available.

Since then, Hopper said the company has contacted a number of shareholders regarding the cancellation of the supply agreement.

“The reaction to this has been out of proportion to the news, and it really is a storm in a teacup,” he said.

“We recently announced that this trial is open earlier than planned and can be expedited by obtaining the drug elsewhere, the cost of which is not significant.”

What does Imugene want to accomplish?

Although the market remains turbulent, Imugene continues to work across its clinical pipeline.

“Imugene is stronger than it has ever been as we continue to make good progress,” Hopper reassured in his letter to shareholders.

The chairman then highlighted some of the company’s key investments, which he said are its strong cash reserves, with A$100 million in the bank and three platform technologies supporting six unique assets.

Within 12 months, the biotech expects to have about 10 clinical studies underway, backed by between five and six investigational new drug approvals from the Food and Drug Administration.

Imugene’s drugs target more than 10 disease areas and the company has entered into two supply agreements with leading pharmaceutical companies, as well as two industry/scientific collaborations.

What’s on the horizon?

Imugene’s president said the remainder of 2022 has “exciting developments” in the pipeline.

Planned activities include:

  • Trial of the HERVaxx combination in two phase two studies; one with BAVENCIO® (avelumab) and the other with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in gastric cancer;
  • The final reading of the HERIZON HERVaxx study; and
  • Trial of PD1Vaxx in combination with TECENTRIQ® (atezolizumab) in lung cancer;

Imugene is also in the midst of some key clinical milestones.

The company’s drug candidate CHECKvacc is already in cohort two with interesting data reported as early as cohort one.

Meanwhile, Imugene’s VAXINIA oncolytic virus has started to be administered to patients, as announced to the market at the end of last week.

Finally, onCARlytics – the IMU oncolytic virus that expresses CD19 – is awaiting publication on the combination with Celularity and Eureka CAR-T therapeutics.

The bottom line

Rounding out today’s note, Hopper remained optimistic about the future of his business.

“Imugene is in immuno-oncology therapies with a rich pipeline and prospects. We are financially secure and will continue to thrive,” he concluded.

“We both remain, and will continue to remain, significant shareholders of IMU and are firmly committed to the company and the exciting times ahead.”

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