Immune Pharma starts major R&D restructure, CEO jumps ship to spinoff

CEO Daniel Teper will take up the chief's role at cancer-focused Cytovia.

Daniel Teper, Pharm.D., has stepped down immediately as CEO of New York biotech Immune Pharma as he looks to head up its new oncology spinoff. 

The micro-cap, Nasdaq-listed biotech saw its shares tumble nearly 10% first thing after announcing the raft of changes, primary of which is to see its subsidiary, Cytovia, spun off into a separate, stand-alone company that will no longer be connected to Immune.

Teper is leaving to head up Cytovia, which will work on immuno-oncology and hematology meds, led by Ceplene, an immunotherapy treatment in late-stage development in combination with low-dose interleukin 2 for the remission maintenance of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

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It will also focus on Azixa and crolibulin, two phase 2 candidates that are designed to be used in combo with I-O drugs, and a bispecific antibody platform “to be supported by collaborative partnerships.”

Board member Elliot Maza, J.D., C.P.A., will serve as CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

This comes a few weeks after a reverse split for the biotech as it looked to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid price requirement for continued listing on Nasdaq. It had until May 1 to do this.

Meanwhile, Monica Luchi, M.D., EVP of global drug development and CMO, becomes president of Immune’s inflammatory disease and dermatology division. Under Maza and Luchi, Immune says it will “focus its business on immuno-inflammation in general, and immuno-dermatology in particular, by developing its core asset, bertilimumab, a first in class human monoclonal antibody in phase 2 development in bullous pemphigoid and ulcerative colitis and with application for severe atopic dermatitis.”

The biotech added that it will also continue work on topical nanocyclosporine in atopic dermatitis and moderate psoriasis. The split essentially sees Immune become focused on autoimmune and inflammation R&D, with Cytovia working on cancer projects.

Immune says this is a positive as it allows current Immune investors to benefit from “two distinct investment opportunities through proportional receipt of shares in Cytovia,” and also allows Cytovia to “target new investors attracted to its specific oncology business profile and pursue distinct capital structures and capital allocation strategies.”

Why the change? The need for “prioritizing and segregating” its research and development efforts and “strengthening its financial position.”

Teper said: “The proposed restructuring strategy recognizes that our two operating divisions have evolved into distinct business and investment opportunities. The potential Cytovia spinoff will establish each division as a separate company with a focused strategy and will enable each company to enhance its business focus, better align its resources to achieve strategic priorities, target investors attracted to its unique business profile, and ultimately unlock significant value for both companies.”

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