The Immutep Ltd (ASX: IMM) share price is soaring in early-afternoon trade. This comes after the company announced a second clinical trial collaboration with subsidiaries of Merck & Co. (MSD). At the time of writing, the biotechnology company’s shares are up 5.97% to 36 cents.
New Phase 2b trial
The Immutep share price is on the move as investors have been rallying up on the positive news.
According to its release, Immutep advised that it has entered a second clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with MSD. This will see Immutep commence a new Phase 2b trial, named TACTI-003 using first-line head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients.
HNSCC is an aggressive life-threatening cancer that affects either the mouth, sinuses, nose or throat. The disease has a high mortality rate. Because of this, it is considered one of the most common cancers in the world. Global cancer statistics revealed 890,000 cases were diagnosed with 450,000 deaths reported in 2018 alone.
The trial will be a 1:1 randomised and controlled study involving around 160 first-line HNSCC patients. Furthermore, Immutep will seek to assess the safety and efficacy of its lead product candidate, eftilagimod alpha with MSD’s KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab). This will be compared against administering pembrolizumab alone to treat the HNSCC disease.
Immutep’s TACTI-003 trial will take place over multiple locations across the United States, Australia, and Europe. Moreover, the first patient is expected to be enrolled in the study during the middle of this year.
It’s worth noting that the company is also evaluating eftilagimod alpha and KEYTRUDA in its Phase 2 TACTI-002 trial. The encouraging results received led Immutep to conduct an additional TACTI-003 study.
Words from the CEO
Furthermore, Immutep CEO Marc Voigt touched on the company’s developments, saying:
We are excited to be deepening our collaboration with MSD through this second agreement and the TACTI-003 clinical trial. Advancing to this later stage Phase IIb trial will allow us to explore the combination therapy in the commercially relevant 1st line therapy setting which has a high unmet medical need.
About the Immutep share price
The Immutep share price has gained close to 30% over the past 12 months. However, the company is down 13% year-to-date.
Based on the current valuations, Immutep has a market capitalisation of about $233.5 million. Additionally, Immutep has 648 million shares on issue.