Imugene lifts bank balance with $12.6m rebate to progress immune-oncology therapies
Imugene (ASX: IMU) has more cash in the bank to pursue ongoing development of its immuno-oncology therapies following a $12.6 million research and development tax refund from the Australian Government.
Under the government’s research and development tax incentive scheme, companies engaging in eligible activities can receive a refundable tax offset of up to 43.5%.
Imugene is developing cancer immunotherapies and has five main assets: HER-Vaxx, CHECKvacc, CF33-CD19, VAXINIA and PD1-Vaxx.
The portfolio comprises oncolytic virotherapies (VAXINIA or CF33), multiple B-cell vaccine candidates, and emerging technologies, including onCARlytics (CF33-CD19) in combination with CAR-Ts, or bispecifc antibody targeting CD19 for solid tumours.
The therapies are designed to harness a patient’s immune system to help it fight cancer.
As part of this, Imugene is investigating using the treatments as sole therapies (monotherapies) and in combination with other drugs on the market.
In 2019, Imugene licenced the CF33 oncolytic virus platform from Prof Yuman Fong from the City of Hope.
Prof Fong is chair of the independent research organisation’s Department of Surgery. He is described as a world-renowned cancer researcher, physician and surgeon.
Oncolytic viruses have essentially been engineered to infect and kill only cancer cells. The viruses can be further armed with payloads to boost killing abilities.
The virus enters a cancer cell, duplicates itself and resulting in the cell eventually exploding. This then releases thousands of new virus particles into the body that will seek out and destroy more cancerous cells.
Imugene’s CHECKvacc is an armed virus comprising CF33 and human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) and antibody aPD-L1.
This armed virus is being used in a phase 1 trial in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer.
In this trial, CHECKvacc is targeting the PD-L1 protein and activating the local tumour microenvironment.
Last week, Imugene reported preliminary positive imaging data for CHECKvacc.
Initial imaging data shows CHECKvacc was “well tolerated” at all three dose levels across three cohorts in a phase 1 trial.
The trial is continuing.
During preclinical studies, CHECKvacc demonstrated “robust anti-cancer activity”.