Here’s why the Imugene (ASX:IMU) share price is jumping 5% today

The Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU) share price is rising on the back of news the immuno-oncology company has entered a new licensing agreement.

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The Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU) share price is leaping higher today on the back of news the immuno-oncology company has entered into a licensing agreement.

The agreement will see Imugene licensing the patents for a novel combination immunotherapy targeting cancer cells.

At the time of writing, the Imugene share price is trading 5.3% higher than yesterday’s close, with shares in the company swapping hands for 34.75 cents.

Let’s take a closer look at the announcement Imugene made this morning.

Cancer therapy licensing agreement

Imugene has entered into a licensing agreement with City of Hope, an independent cancer research and treatment centre. The technology under the license is an extension of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell cancer therapy.

According to Lymphoma Australia, CAR T cell therapy uses a person’s T cells, which are a type of white blood cell, to attack cancer cells. CAR T cell therapy makes a person’s white blood cells attracted to CD19 protein, which is found on the surface of some types of cancer cells. The white blood cells can then attack the cancer.

As solid tumours don’t naturally produce CD19, they can’t currently be treated with CAR T cell therapy.

Under the licensing agreement, Imugene will license City of Hope’s CD19 therapy. The therapy is a CAR T cell therapy using City of Hope’s oncolytic virus, onCARlytics.

OnCARlytics has so far been successful in making solid tumours produce the CD19 protein.

Imugene states that targeting solid cancers with T cell therapy is the technology’s “holy grail”, as current Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved CD19 CAR T drugs only work to treat blood cancers.

The first clinical trial is expected to start next year. Within it, onCARlytics will be combined with CAR T therapy to target solid tumours.

The trial will test the safety and efficacy of the treatment combination in humans.

So far, researchers at City of Hope have been able to successfully use onCARlytics to produce CD19 in triple-negative breast, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, head and neck, and brain cancer cells. They have also successfully combined onCARlytics with CAR T cell therapy in mice studies. The findings included a significant number of mice being cured of cancer with prolonged protective anti-tumour immunity.

Commentary from management

Imugene’s managing director and CEO Leslie Chong commented on the therapy. She said:

The CAR T cell field currently only treats ~10% of all cancers such as blood or liquid tumours, whereas this technology has the potential to open up the solid tumour market.

Imugene share price snapshot

The Imugene share price is having a fantastic year so far on the ASX, with today’s news bringing its latest boost.

Currently, the Imugene share price has gained around 240% since the start of 2021. It’s also up a whopping 1,033% since this time last year.

The company has a market capitalisation of around $1.6 billion, with approximately 4.7 billion shares outstanding.

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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