Immupharma finds solace in closely related Incanthera

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Immupharma’s attempt to drum up investor interest today by tying up with Incanthera has desperation written all over it. The proposed deal concerns Immupharma’s oncology project IPP-204106, a nucleolin antagonist; the only other asset with this mechanism, Antisoma’s AS1411 (an aptamer rather than a peptide), failed and was divested as ACT-GRO-777 to Advanced Cell Therapeutics. Incanthera’s lead is ICT01-2588, a formulated vascular-disrupting agent – another mechanism that Antisoma, through ASA404, showed to be a dud. Incanthera is sounding out the markets for a flotation, and Immupharma will soon need to raise cash, so perhaps the companies’ destinies are linked: both are chaired by Tim McCarthy, whose last UK biotech venture, Alizyme, ended in liquidation. Immupharma also today revealed plans to make Lupuzor available to lupus patients under a managed access programme; Lupuzor’s repeated failure to show convincing clinical efficacy raises serious questions about why patients should be given hope and exposed to it, though at least it is relatively safe (Why the markets should remain sceptical about Immupharma, May 29, 2018). Many biotechs with a project that, like Lupuzor, had failed two key trials and generated mixed data in another might by now have been persuaded to throw in the towel.

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