This makes it a perfect fit for Lupuzor
Boss Dimitri Dimitriou said of the company's deal with Avion Pharmaceuticals
What it does
Lupus is what’s called a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
While, thankfully, it is rare, Lupus’ symptoms are painful and sometimes fatal.
The condition is poorly treated with only one bespoke drug for the condition – Benlysta, developed by GlaxoSmithKline. AstraZeneca is expected to add a second medication when it brings anifrolumab to the market next year.
In May 2020, a study was published that suggested Lupuzor could help to reduce or prevent the occurrence of the cytokine storm seen in coronavirus patients.
How it is doing
In early February, the company hailed the “positive and proactive” progress made by it and partner Avion Pharmaceuticals that will see a second phase III trial of the latter’s drug for lupus get underway “as soon as possible” this year.
In July, Avion submitted a special protocol assessment (SPA) request to the US regulators with the aim of streamlining the approval process for the clinical trial.
ImmuPharma has also said there had been a number of discussions with a number of potential commercial partners outside the US – hinting at further commercial upside for the drug.
The Avion deal, announced last November, will see ImmuPharma receive up to US$70mln of milestone payments, with US$5mln due on regulatory approval of the product and a further US$65mln dependent on sales targets.
The UK group will also get royalties of up to 17% on sales, while there are financial incentives to expand Lupuzor’s use into other autoimmune diseases.
A loss of £6.1mln was reported for calendar 2019, with the company exiting the year with cash of £1.4mln in the bank.
- The company raised £1.5mln in March from a share subscription to fund an expansion of its research & development programmes
- In June, up to US$6.3mln of funding was agreed from two specialist US healthcare investors
- Icanthera, in which the company holds an 11.9% stake, started trading on the NEX Exchange Growth market in February after raising £1.2mln to fund the development of its novel cream to treat and prevent skin cancer
- Immupharma's shares began trading on the Euronext Growth Brussels (Euronext) exchange in late December
What the analysts say
In a note released in December, research house Life Sciences Division said:
"We now see Lupuzor as having the ability to generate blockbuster sales in the US (US$1bn+) alone (previously US and EU combined) – which when coupled with a royalty stream of up to 17% on revenues, could see an annual royalty to ImmuPharma’s bottom line of US$170m per year."
"What is particularly impressive about this deal is not only ImmuPharma’s ability to identify and execute a new licensing partner for Lupuzor but also the opportunity available for ImmuPharma to find new distribution and marketing partners outside the US for Lupuzor, for e.g. in Europe, where a new trial would not even be required given Avion’s funding commitment."