News Feature | October 8, 2014

Prima BioMed Announces Plan To Acquire Immutep For $28M

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Australia-based Prima BioMed announced its plan to acquire French biopharmaceutical Immutep for up to $28 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Prima will pay up to $28 million through cash, shares, and warrants based on the completion of certain milestones. The transaction will be funded through an investment agreement of up to $37.4 million with U.S. institutional investor Bergen Global Opportunity.

Immutep is a late-stage privately owned biopharmaceutical firm developing products in the field of immuno-oncology. The company has been working on several complementary types of cancer immunotherapies using its proprietary technology Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 (LAG-3). Immutep’s lead product IMP321 is currently undergoing investigation in clinical trials both as monotherapy and in combination with other cancer-fighting drugs. The company has also established a number of development collaborations with several major pharma firms, which Prima sees as a potential boost to revenue in the future.

Lucy Turnbull, Chair of Prima BioMed, said that the partnership positions Prima in the growing immuno-oncology market projected to balloon to $35 billion by 2031. “It significantly expands our clinical development product portfolio to other categories of immunotherapies beyond cancer vaccines, which includes our current lead product CVac. It also provides us with partnerships with several of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.”

Among Immutep’s development partners are Chinese pharmaceutical company Eddingpharm, GlaxoSmithKline, and CoStim, a Novartis company. Immutep’s collaborations center on immunotherapy development targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Immutep Founder and Director Professor Frédéric Triebel, who will join Prima as its CSO, commented, “The team is very excited about joining Prima. We believe that the combination of therapies targeting different tumor escape mechanisms is about to change the way we treat a complex disease such as cancer. In immuno-oncology, combination is key.” Professor Triebel originally developed the LAG-3 technology together with other collaborators.

Prima’s shares climbed slightly following the announcement. The acquisition is still subject to shareholders’ approval.