Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stock of California Firm Jumps 17 Percent on News of Golden State Award

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ImmunoCellular Therapeutics’ stock price shot up 17 percent today in the wake of formal approval of a $20 million award from the California stem cell agency for a clinical trial involving a rare brain cancer.

The price has been climbing since last week when the California Stem Cell Report first disclosed that the company was set to secure the funding for the phase three clinical trial, the last step before widespread commercialization.

In an interview today, Andrew Gengos, president of the Calabasas, Ca., firm, confirmed that the trial is expected to cost $40 million to $50 million. The company has said it will add $34.4 million to the $20 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known.

Gengos said the five-year trial is expected to get underway in November with the enrollment of the first patients. He said it will probably start in the United States with expansion to Canada and Europe. About 400 patients are expected to participate.

ImmunoCellular has not had any revenues since 2010. Asked about the source of the $34 million, Gengos said the company had $31 million on hand at the end of June with no debt. He added that the company can access additional cash through the sale of more stock.

In reponse to a question, Gengos said he first became aware of the possibility of funding the clinical trial with the help of CIRM as the result of a conversation with a colleague at the J.P. Morgan health care conference in San Francisco last January.

Gengos followed up by asking an ImmunoCellular co-worker to look into the process. As the result, the company made its initial application which CIRM sent back with suggestions for improvement. In the second review, reviewers voted 9-0 to fund the project.

Gengos told the CIRM board today that the trial would take five years to complete.
“Frankly, this time period is outside the interest of most public market investors in terms of their investment horizon and therefore, in their eyes, handicaps our project compared to other projects that can execute in a shorter time frame.
“The result is that investment capital is hard to come by for these types of promising and highly innovative therapies when the investment horizon is long, and a small company without product revenues is at the helm.”
Gengos continued,
“I do not think it is an overstatement to say that without CIRM’s support, this program would not go forward. California’s innovative biotechnology community needs institutions like CIRM. Clearly – we need CIRM. Brain cancer patients need CIRM.”
Here is the text of the company’s press release today.

Here is the text of Gengos statement to the CIRM board.
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