BMS-backed Immatics' cell therapy shows early promise in small data set, prompting $110M offering

Bristol Myers Squibb-backed Immatics is wasting no time capitalizing on early phase 1a data that hints at promise or the company’s cell therapy ambitions, announcing a new public offering to raise $110 million. 

Both announced Monday, the financing plans and interim data offer a bit of validation of Immatics’ manufactured T-cell receptor technology amid a burgeoning cell therapy field. The analysis of the phase 1a/1b solid tumor trial found that among 12 patients treated with the target dose of Immatics’ autologous TCR therapy, the objective response rate was 50%. Out of five of the patients in the phase 1b portion alone, four had a confirmed objective response rate.

The good news was contingent on patients receiving the higher dose level of more than 1 billion infused TCR-T cells. At lower dose levels, the confirmed objective response rate at 12 weeks was 19%.

As of Sept. 6, 32 patients had been treated in total, 27 of whom averaged four lines of prior treatment. As the phase 1b portion advances, the company hopes to recruit more patients have been less heavily pretreated. 

“As we continue to shift our focus from phase 1a to phase 1b, we look forward to reporting meaningful data throughout 2023, including safety and response rates, as well as durability of response with a longer follow-up time,” Chief Medical Officer Cedrik Britten, M.D., said in a release. 

The study is one of three assessing the treatment—called IMA203—which is targeting preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma (PRAME). After being encouraged by earlier data, the company expanded development to include a trial testing the therapy in addition to a checkpoint inhibitor and another that incorporates a CD8 co-receptor. Britten said the company is “awaiting data” on those two expansion groups. 

Equipped with the early results, Immatics is calling on investors to pitch in more money, offering up nearly 11 million shares at $10.09 per share. That was the face-value cost heading into Monday, but the data drop prompted an 11% bump in value, with shares at $11.20 at the time of publishing. Immatics landed on Nasdaq in July 2020 amid a boom of special purpose acquisition companies, merging with Arya Sciences Acquisition Corporation for roughly $253 million. 

The company had already gained the trust of Bristol Myers Squibb, which has, on more than one occasion, revised a research deal originally between Immatics and Celgene to include more than $4.2 billion in biobucks. The two are now locked into a deal that includes four autologous adoptive cell therapies, two allogeneic treatments and one bispecific. When the latest revision was announced in June, Fierce Biotech asked BMS why it hadn’t just bought smaller biotech outright. 

“We feel the existing collaboration agreement provides significant potential opportunities for all parties involved,” the company said in a statement.