Small Bio-tech Gets $17.7 Million Backing from U.S. Department of Defense to Treat SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant
Source: Streetwise Reports
July 21, 2021 (Investorideas.com Newswire) Immunome's proprietary discovery engine identifies novel therapeutic antibodies and their targets.
On July 20, 2021, Immunome announced that its "three-antibody cocktail (IMM-BCP-01) has demonstrated potent neutralizing activity against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in pre-clinical pseudovirus testing."
"Furthermore, IMM-BCP-01 showed in-vitro activity via non-neutralizing mechanisms," stated IMNM, "such as complement fixation, which Immunome expects will enable viral clearance."
"IMM-BCP-01's ability to maintain neutralizing activity against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Delta variant, potentially positions our drug candidate as a long-term solution to the changing threat posed by COVID-19," stated Purnanand Sarma, Ph.D., president and CEO of Immunome.
Immunome was awarded a $17.6 million technology award from the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND), in collaboration with the Defense Health Agency, to support Immunome's COVID program.
In trading, the stock is up around 12% to $18.66 on 20 million shares traded. Its market cap jumped $60 million to $219 million. Insiders own about 19% of the company.
Technical analyst Clive Maund noted on CliveMaund.com on July 20 that not only did Immunome "have a good day yesterday when the market as a whole caved in, but it is looking very well placed for a recovery following its severe reaction from a high in February at over $62.5, albeit achieved briefly, back to support above its earlier base pattern. . .The impressive outperformance yesterday coupled with the excellent news out this morning suggest that it could really take off higher today."
"Immunome is leveraging the "highly educated components" of the immune system, memory B cells, from patients whose bodies have learned to fight off their disease," states IMNM.
Five months ago, as vaccination rates rose, the financial markets gave a sigh of relief and declared, "Thank goodness that Covid-19 thing is over."
Most companies operating in the Covid space suffered share price depreciation.
On February 24, 2020, IMNM was trading at $43, it closed on July 19, at $16.64.
The death of Covid-19 turned out to be greatly exaggerated.
That early optimism is now clouded with reports of a new global surge of Covid-19 and the lightening-fast spread of the Delta variant.
"Breakthrough cases are also already cropping up in the Tokyo Summer Olympics," continued CNN.
"There is no such thing as a vaccine that's 100% effective," said Dr. Amy Edwards, the associate medical of Children's Hospital in Cleveland.
On Friday, the CDC warned that vaccines may not protect people who are immune-compromised.
"From Wall Street to Sydney, stocks tumbled Monday [July 19, 2021] amid worries that rising COVID-19 infections mean the pandemic is worsening in hotspots around the world," confirmed CBS news.
Indonesia is in crisis, as outbreaks spread across Southeast Asia.
The Department of Defense is a big-time partner.
The U.S. DOD increased contract spending 10% in 2020 to $445.5 billion from $404.5 billion disbursed in fiscal 2019, according to Bloomberg Government data.
With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, the U.S. Department of Defense is the nation's largest employer.
The DOD is typically very tight-lipped about its civilian collaborations.
But not so in the case of Immunome.
"Despite the numerous challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided an opportunity to enhance government-industry partnerships to rapidly identify solutions," stated Dr. Jason Roos, the Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND). "Demonstrating the ability to collect blood from convalescent patients and quickly identify multiple antibodies as preventatives or therapeutics may not only combat the current pandemic, but can also establish a platform to combat future novel viruses. We are very encouraged by the current results of testing and product development."
Preclinical testing results:
- In Syrian hamsters infected with live SARS-CoV-2 virus (USA-WA1/2020), IMM-BCP-01 reduced lung viral load as a treatment and prophylaxis.
- Live virus studies demonstrated full neutralization by IMM-BCP-01 of CDC-designated "Variants of Concern," South Africa (B.1.351) and UK (B.1.1.7), as well as the U.S. and European reference strains USA-WA1/2020 and BavPat1/2020.
- Pseudovirus studies demonstrated full neutralization by IMM-BCP-01 of CDC-designated "Variants of Concern," Brazil (P.1) and California (B.1.429, which also contains B.1.427 mutations).
- Mechanistic studies demonstrate the selected antibodies bind not only to SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins with complex mutations, including the UK (B.1.1.7), SA (B.1.351), Brazil (P1/P2) and California (B.1.429/427) variants, but also to those with several individual mutations, including E484Q and L452R, which are associated with the recently emerged double mutant (B.1.617, or the India variant).
- Two of the three selected antibodies bind to areas of the Spike protein that may be resistant to evolutionary change.
- In addition to viral neutralization, the antibodies also demonstrated additional mechanisms in vitro that may be of relevance in viral clearance.
Immunome is also advancing IMM-ONC-01, a proprietary antibody against IL-38 "for the potential treat of solid tumors including malignancies of high unmet need such as cancers of the head and neck and the lung, into IND-enabling studies."
Because of IMNM's tight focus, there aren't a lot of apples-to-apples comparables.
A pre-public company Adagio has succeeded in attracting investor support for its anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody.
On July 19, Adagio filed a $100 million IPO to support Phase 2/3 trials that CEO Tillman Gerngross' Adagio is running to position ADG20 to treat and prevent COVID-19.
In April, 2021 Adagio raised $336 million in a Series C round of funding.
Back-of-the napkin calculation suggests Adagio may have a post-money valuation north of $1 billion.
On April 26, 2021 Immunome did a private placement from which it raised about $27 million at $27.00 per unit.
"We believe our lead candidate's mechanism of action, targeting at least three non-overlapping epitopes - informed by authentic human immune response - provides a robust defense against future mutational drift," stated Sarma in reference to the July 20, 2021 news.
"Currently, the delta variant accounts for a majority of coronavirus cases in the United States," added Sarma.
"Given the near-term potential for a resurgence of COVID-19 infections driven by emerging variants, Immunome intends to explore opportunities to expedite the development of this potential therapeutic," states IMNM. "The Company plans to submit an IND application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this quarter."
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Clive Maund does not own shares of Immunome, and neither he nor his company has a financial relationship with the company.
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