Since the beginning of 2017, we have been involved in Immunic Therapeutics AG with the IBG funds. The young biotech company based in Martinsried and Halle/Saale raised a remarkable 31 million EUR in a Series A funding round last fall.
Halle is highly regarded as a location for research and biotechnology, and as a center for protein chemistry and the study of biochemical agents, especially those with low molecular weight, it is considered as an ideal research environment. And since Immunic GmbH took up space there, it’s become even more important to the industry, the site of even more pharmaceutical research.
Immunic develops pharmaceuticals to treat chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders; e.g. chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The company has specialized in developing so-called immune modulators, which specifically target the disease process. These agents target what are known as TH17 immune cells, which play a significant part in the development and progression of the diseases in question. This is where this highly specific approach differs from other immunosuppressive approaches.
And even though it’s at a very early pre-clinical stage, we were also particularly impressed with the second program to develop a drug candidate that targets the nuclear receptor ROR-gamma T and plays a key role in the development of TH17 cells.
The global market potential for these two development programs is huge. The demand for effective and safe medication which can be taken orally is particularly high for chronic diseases. Patients can significantly improve their quality of life if they have access to effective medication with limited side effects that can be taken orally at home in a familiar environment and doesn’t require a visit to the GP or a hospital stay to be administered.
In addition to Immunic’s valid datasets, we were particularly impressed with the four-person founder and management team, who have at their disposal a diverse skillset, outstanding qualifications, international experience (in the industry), and are extremely well-connected.
Immunic has set out to demonstrate the effectiveness of its two lead projects in patients over the next three years. Since we invested in the company, they have made good progress in this regard and recently reported on the successful completion of two Phase I trials. The team is currently launching an international clinical Phase II trial for the leading candidate IMU-838 on patients indicating ulcerative colitis. The development of the second drug candidate is also proceeding as scheduled. IMU-366 is to enter clinical trials this year.
Thanks to a very solid investment case and an excellent team, Immunic managed to win over an international consortium of renowned life sciences investors and experienced an impressive round of funding – even by international standards. The funds will suffice to demonstrate the effectiveness of the leading candidate in a Phase II clinical trial and to confirm the safety of the second candidate in a Phase I clinical trial. Achieving these significant milestones will be accompanied by a tremendous increase in value.
The pharmaceutical development of innovative new products is very expensive, but in the event of success, it offers an exceptional return on investment.