In what the company is describing as the most important announcement in its history, Prima BioMed is acquiring French biopharma firm Immutep in a deal worth $28 million in cash, shares, and warrants linked to achieving specific performance milestones.

Prima BioMed is looking to strengthen its immuno-oncology position, and Immutep has been developing several complementary types of cancer immunotherapies based on its Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 (LAG-3) technology, including its lead product IMP321. Immutep also has several development partnerships involving several of its candidates for which Prima will receive future milestone payments and royalties, including:

  • A Phase II chemo-immunotherapy trial combining IMP321 with chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in partnership with Eddingpharm; Prima will be also taking over responsibility for the development of IMP321 in the rest of the world excluding China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan (Eddingpharm currently has exclusive development rights in those countries).
  • A Phase I trial program for IMP731 in autoimmune diseases in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (milestones could be worth up to $100 million plus additional royalties); and
  • An immune checkpoint blocker preclinical program for IMP701 in cancer immunotherapy partnered with CoStim (Novartis). 

The completed Phase II trial of IMP321 in MBC, Prima says, demonstrated a doubling of the tumor response rate in 30 patients treated with chemo-immunotherapy versus chemotherapy alone. Prima plans to start a new Phase II trial program with IMP321 in chemo-immunotherapy or in other combinations after the transaction is completed. 

“This presents a major opportunity to grow and strengthen the company,” Prima's chief executive Marc Voigt said in a statement. “It provides Prima with a diverse pipeline of early- and mid-stage development candidates and the opportunity to develop other preclinical candidates. . . . Through this transaction, combining experience of personalized cancer therapy at Prima Biomed with the immunotherapy innovation and expertise of novel cancer targets at Immutep, Prima steps to the forefront of cancer immunotherapy development, including monotherapy and combined approaches. This is a very exciting prospect.”

The transaction will be funded via an investment agreement with Bergen Global Opportunity Fund for up to $37.4 million over a 24-month period. 

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