Setbacks

Israel’s Immune Pharma waves the white flag after failing to secure deals for inflammation drug

An eosinophil regulating drug that’s traveled down a winding path to the clinic is once again set to switch hands.

Tony Fiorino

Immune Pharma, which first in-licensed bertilimumab for immunologic and inflammatory diseases in 2011, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy via its US office in New Jersey. Tony Fiorino, former CEO of BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, has been leading the Israeli biotech ad interim since last August.

First isolated by phage display at Cambridge Antibody Technology, bertilimumab targets eotaxin-1, which is believed to attract eosinophils to the site of inflammation. Blocking the cytokine, then, could blunt immune responses and relieve inflammatory symptoms, Immune Pharma theorized when it obtained rights to the drug from iCo Therapeutics, which was taking it in the ophthalmic direction.

It will now keep operations to a bare minimum while finding ways to “monetize its assets” — something that it insists it will be able to do. In fact, Immune Pharma claims that it was making progress finding a partner but just couldn’t afford to fund the company through the few months that it would take for the deal to wrap.

“The Company had expected to receive $3 million in financing and to sign a Ceplene partnership with an initial payment of $2.5 million, but neither transaction closed,” it added.

Just how dire was the situation? According to the company’s SEC filing, it was working with $0.1 million in the bank — plus $14.5 million in working capital deficit — as of September 30, 2018.

Its shares on the over-the-counter market $IMNP — following some downlisting — are trading at an abysmal $0.0022 following a 40% drop at the bankruptcy announcement.

Historically, bertilimumab has been touted as a potential treatment for bullous pemphigoid, ulcerative colitis, atopic dermatitis, asthma and vernal keratoconjunctivitis.

Other drugs in Immune Pharma’s portfolio include a maintenance therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (Ceplene), two vascular disrupting agents and two pain products.


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Sr. Manager, Regulatory Affairs, CMC
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