NovImmune raised CHF 62.5 million, or about $56.53 million, in a round of equity financing that has given the company enough cash to buy back all rights to two of its lead autoimmune disease candidates, NI-0401 and NI-0501, from Merck Serono.
“This substantial capital increase allows NovImmune to progress its projects along the value chain while preparing the company for important strategic partnerships that might involve one or multiple compounds of its portfolio,” comments Eduard E. Holdener, M.D., chairman of NovImmune’s board of directors.
Under terms of the exclusive, worldwide licensing deal for NI-0401 and NI -0501, originally signed in May 2005, NovImmune was to continue development of the two products until the end of Phase IIa trials. At that point Serono would take over clinical development.
NI-0401 is a fully human anti-CD3 mAb currently in Phase II development for type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and transplantation. NovImmune suggests that it may have additional applications in multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis.
NI-0501 is a fully human mAb that binds specifically and selectively to the human cytokine, interferon gamma (IFN-gamma), and is currently in preclinical development against autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
NovImmune has five other mAbs in its pipeline. A second clinical-stage (Phase I) autoimmune and inflammatory diseases candidate, NI-0801, is a fully human mAb that binds to the human chemokine IP-10 (also known as CXCL10). Additional preclinical or research-stage candidates include a fully human mAb targeting the human chemokine RANTES (also known as CCL5), another that binds to two forms of the IL-17 family of cytokines, a humanized mAb against human toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and a fully human mAb that binds to the receptor in the complex formed with the cytokine IL-6Rc.