Published 17th June 2016

Cell Medica and Baylor College of Medicine partner to create next generation cellular immunotherapy products for cancer treatment

Imperial Innovations Group plc (AIM: IVO or 'the Group', 'Innovations') notes today's announcement by portfolio company Cell Medica (the 'Company') of an exclusive licensing agreement and a co-development partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) to create next generation cellular immunotherapy products for the treatment of cancer.

Cell Medica is a cellular immunotherapy company, focused on the development, manufacture and marketing of cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancers and infectious disease. As at 31 January 2016, the Group had a 27.0% interest in the issued share capital of the Company with such interest having a net fair value of £21.0 million.

Baylor's Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT) has more than 20 years of experience working with genetically modified immune cells for the treatment of cancer. It has conducted more than 40 clinical studies investigating cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.

This new collaboration is expected to generate a significant number of new products for Cell Medica's cellular immunotherapy pipeline. It provides the Company with an exclusive license over several Baylor cell and gene technologies and an option to license new products introduced into the co-development partnership by Baylor's leading research teams in the field of genetically engineered immune cells.

The collaboration will build upon the recent clinical success of advanced chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to enable human immune cells to recognise and kill cancer cells expressing tumour associated antigens.

Five product programs have been defined for the initial development plan focused on the application of CAR technology to natural killer T (NKT) cells as a novel immune cell type with biological properties that may be particularly effective for targeting solid tumours. NKT cells are known to infiltrate tissues where solid tumours arise and kill both malignant cells and cancer-enabling cells such as the tumour associated macrophages. The development plan also includes a genetically engineered T cell receptor (TCR) for use in NKT cells and T cells.

Cell Medica has paid an up-front fee for the exclusive licensing arrangements and will make additional payments to exercise its exclusive option to licence future products. Baylor is eligible to receive further payments related to late stage clinical, regulatory approval and sales milestones, as well as single digit royalties for the successful development of specific products. The financial terms have not been disclosed.

Gregg Sando, CEO of Cell Medica, said:

"This collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine will place Cell Medica at the forefront of new product concepts for CAR-modified immune cells.

"Baylor's leading research capability in this field should add significantly to our pipeline of high value products targeting cancer types that do not respond to conventional treatments."

Russ Cummings, CEO at Imperial Innovations, added:

"This new agreement accelerates Cell Medica's ambitious growth plans and significantly broadens its cellular immunotherapy pipeline and US footprint. It is an important step forward in its strategy to become a world-leader in cell therapy, leveraging its scientific and manufacturing base.

"To date Cell Medica has raised more than £72m. With the on-going support of a strong group of investors, the business is ideally positioned to capitalise on the market opportunity for next-generation products which harness the human immune response to fight cancer."