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Immutep to be acquired by Prima BioMed

Friday, October 3, 2014

Immutep, an Orsay, France-based, late stage private biopharmaceutical company focused on immuno-oncology, has reached an agreement to be acquired by Prima BioMed, a Sydney, Australiabased developer of personalized immunocellular therapeutic products for cancer. Prima will pay up to approximately $28 million through a combination of cash, shares and warrants, subject to the achievement of certain performance milestones.

Immutep has been developing a number of complementary types of cancer immunotherapies based on its patented Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 (LAG-3) technology. Its lead product IMP321 has been tested in various clinical trials to date, both alone and in combination with other therapies. Immutep holds the world-wide rights (China and Taiwan) to commercialize IMP321. This includes trials in chemo-immunotherapy, a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy which significantly enhances patients’ immune response to cancers. 

Immutep’s development partnerships, which will provide future milestone payments and royalties to Prima, include: 

  • IMP321: a phase II chemo-immunotherapy trial combining IMP321 with first line chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in partnership with Chinese pharma company Eddingpharm. Eddingpharm has exclusively sub-licensed IMP321 for development in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and this could result in undisclosed milestone payments and royalties. Prima will take over responsibility for the development of IMP321 in the rest of the world. 
  • IMP731: a phase I clinical trial program in auto-immune diseases in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline with potential milestone payments of up to approximately $100 million and additional royalties.
  • IMP701: an immune checkpoint blocker preclinical program in cancer immunotherapy partnered with CoStim (Novartis). Financial details are undisclosed but include milestone payments and royalties. 

The completed phase II trial of IMP321 in MBC demonstrated a doubling of the tumor response rate in 30 patients treated with chemo-immunotherapy versus chemotherapy alone. Planning for a new phase II clinical trial program with IMP321 in chemo-immunotherapy or in other combinations will commence following completion of the transaction. 

Marc Voigt, chief executive of Prima, said, “This presents a major opportunity to grow and strengthen the company. It provides Prima with a diverse pipeline of early- and mid-stage development candidates and the opportunity to develop other pre-clinical candidates.”

Immutep has a R&D laboratory outside Paris, France, where additional research projects for its LAG-3 technology are being explored. Immutep has 11 patent families covering its technology, which are all exclusively licensed or owned, with one jointly owned with the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), a major French public health research organization. 

Immutep’s founder and scientific and medical director, professor Frédéric Triebel will join Prima as its chief scientific officer, along with his scientific team, to oversee the LAG-3 development program and to advise on the ongoing development of CVac. Triebel originally developed the LAG-3 technology in collaboration with the Institut Gustave Roussy (IGR), a cancer-research institute based in Paris, and MerckSerono.

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