Struggling to raise funds, immuno-oncology biotech IMV searches for a deal as cash clock runs down

The ticking cash clock has forced IMV to act. Down to its last $21 million, the clinical-phase biotech has brought Stonegate Healthcare Partners onboard to explore strategic alternatives amid concerns of "limited available capital."

IMV has been bumping along the bottom of the biotech market for some time now. Nasdaq threatened the biotech with delisting last summer. Months later, IMV laid off one-third of its employees and threw its remaining resources behind maveropepimut-S (MVP-S), an immunotherapy designed to deliver antigens and an adjuvant to activate T cells and drive a long-lasting cellular response against cancers. 

The staff cuts helped IMV to keep going past last month’s phase 2b data drop in relapsed, refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. But three complete responses in the six evaluable recipients of MVP-S and Merck & Co.’s Keytruda failed to excite investors, causing IMV’s stock to fall below $1 again.

IMV CEO Andrew Hall discussed the developments in a statement to disclose the search for strategic alternatives, stating that the early data are “very encouraging” but “market headwinds limiting available capital are ... very real.” The limitations on the biotech’s ability to raise cash led it to engage Stonegate “to explore strategic alternatives, so that MVP-S can realize its full clinical potential,” Hall said.

In an annual report published alongside the statement, IMV revealed it is “currently pursuing financing alternatives that may include equity, debt and non-dilutive financing alternatives including co-development through potential collaborations, strategic partnerships or other transactions with third parties, and merger and acquisition opportunities.”

The biotech’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on the initiatives. IMV’s statement lacks a cash runway forecast, but its forward-looking statement disclosure references “the sufficiency of the company’s current cash position to fund operations into the second half of 2023.”

IMV is running out of time. Last year, the biotech reported a net loss of $38 million, which resulted in the company ending 2022 with $21.2 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The next two milestones, which IMV expects to pass in the second and third quarters of 2023, cover the completion of enrollment in trials. IMV will share preliminary data from the open-label phase 2b studies when enrollment of stage 1 is complete. The other milestone on the horizon is a release of preliminary phase 1 results in the third quarter.