Promising drug set for MS clinical trial

Auckland-based bio-technology developer Innate Immunotheraputics is set to begin a major trial of a drug to treat the serious progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which could give the company entry to a US$6 billion annual market.

To complete the trial, Innate Immunotheraputics has embarked on a US$10 million capital raising, representing 20 percent of the company, with the aim of proving the drug and moving towards a trade sale in 2015.

Innate Immunotheraputics has spent around ten years developing its unique immunomodulator microparticle technology, which can be used to induce the human immune system to fight certain cancers and infections, and also autoimmune diseases such as MS.

Chief executive says Simon Wilkinson said the recently completed early phase trial of the drug known as MIS416 produced results far exceeding expectations.

“The drug is being trialed in patients with Secondary Progressive MS as there are no effective long term treatments for these patients, some of whom have been living with the disease for decades,” Wilkinson said.

“While there are number of drugs approved to treat the early ‘relapsing-remitting’ stage of MS, once a patient gets past a certain stage these drugs simply no longer work and the patients get  progressively more and more debilitated.

“Instead of getting progressively worse, most patients on the trial have shown strong improvement after two to three months. Based on our experience with a small group of patients treated under New Zealand’s ‘compassionate use’ drug law exemption, we would expect these improvements could be maintained with ongoing treatment.”

The second phase trial will take place in Australia, and Wilkinson will present the company to investors at the Wholesale Investor Capital Showcase in Sydney on September 17.

He said the Innate Immunotherapeutics board recently commissioned an independent study on the potential worth of MIS416 which valued the company, upon the completion of a successful phase two trial, at between US$500 to US$600 million.

“The business plan is to roll out the trial in 2013, complete it in 2014 and then present the results to the five or six major pharmaceutical companies that currently have stakes in the global MS market,” said Wilkinson.

“So we are confident of providing our investors with an exit in 2015.”

Publicly unlisted Innate Immunotherapeutics has so far raised US$40 million and has 1700 private shareholders. The same technology can be used in the design of better vaccines to potentially treat or prevent diseases such as influenza, cancer, malaria, or tuberculosis and collaborations are already under way with researchers in the US and Japan.

To know more about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd, please click here.