Gothenburg-based Immunicum has recently made important deals and progress along its way to establishing its drug candidate as part of cancer therapy.
Looking back at 2018, what were Immunicum’s highlights?
“2018 was a pivotal year for Immunicum as the company made important advancements, both from a corporate and a clinical perspective. More specifically, we delivered on several important value inflection points including listing on the main market of Nasdaq Stockholm, completing patient recruitment in the ongoing global Phase II MERECA (Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma) clinical trial, securing raising capital of SEK 351M, backed by strong institutional investors, and receiving protocol approval from the FDA to enable the initiation of the expanded multi-indication Phase Ib/II combination trial.”
“As part of the preparation for that trial, we signed an agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer to evaluate ilixadencel in combination with avelumab, an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, also known as a checkpoint inhibitor. We have brought in new key members to our management team, Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board, and have further validated our approach through presentations at global scientific conferences and publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.”
Ilixadencel is currently in Phase II trials. When can we expect results?
“In 2019 we expect topline results from the Phase II MERECA renal cancer trial, which is a very important clinical milestone for ilixadencel and the company. This is our first comparative trial and has a total of 88 patients in both Europe and the US. We and several potential partners are looking forward to seeing this data.”
What are your hopes and expectations for Immunicum during 2019?
“In 2019 we look forward to reaching several key value inflection points and further validating ilixadencel. In addition to the MERECA results, we will have Phase I/II results in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), as well as initial safety and potential early efficacy data from the multi-indication Phase Ib/II ILIAD study.”
“We will also continue to validate ilixadencel through preclinical studies, expand activities for our commercial development process, as well as attend and present at global industry and scientific conferences. As we continue to grow we envision making significant progress in manufacturing and clinical development and expect pivotal studies to be initiated on our path to the market, potentially in collaboration with a leading pharmaceutical partner.”
What are your reactions to the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2018?
“As most types of cancer continue to remain notoriously stealthy and difficult-to-treat, the next wave of innovation is currently being led by novel combination therapy approaches that attack the cancer from multiple angles. This approach was recognized by the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine, which was awarded to two cancer immunotherapy researchers for their studies in determining how to unleash the body’s immune defenses against cancer, which has resulted in new therapies such as checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs). The most stunning effects in patients have been with combining standard of care with CPIs to provide a more diverse and effective array of treatment options for patients.”
Similarly, Immunicum’s treatment is centralized around the idea of strengthening the ability of the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill tumor cells. Combined with checkpoint inhibitors, this already has the possibility to make a real difference in patients with solid tumors.”
“Similarly, Immunicum’s treatment is centralized around the idea of strengthening the ability of the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill tumor cells. Combined with checkpoint inhibitors, this already has the possibility to make a real difference in patients with solid tumors. We will also continue to study different combination approaches in preclinical studies to gain further insight on the most advantageous combinations. As ilixadencel has an excellent safety profile and is given in only 2 or 3 injections, it can become a crucial add-on to existing combination regimens that may already be limited due to their safety burden in patients.”