Immune Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
CEO: Dr. Daniel Teper
WSA: Good day from Wall Street. This is Juan Costello, Senior Analyst at the Wall Street Analyzer. Joining us today is Dr. Daniel Teper, the CEO of Immune Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. The company trades on NASDAQ, ticker symbol IMNP. Thanks for joining us today Dr. Teper.
Dr. Teper: It’s a pleasure to be back with you.
WSA: Great. So for some of our listeners that are new to the story and didn’t catch our last interview, can you give us a history and overview there of Immune Pharma?
Dr. Teper: So Immune Pharma is focused on immunology as our name indicates and specifically on monoclonal antibodies based drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer. We started operations in 2011. We became public in 2013 and uplisted to NASDAQ in 2014.
WSA: Great and so can you go over some of the recent news there, you had a license agreement with AmiKet Nano, you also initiated the Phase II clinical trial.
Dr. Teper: Yes. I think that the single most important news in the recent months is the, the initiation of the patient enrollment process in our two Phase II clinical studies with Bertilimumab, our lead monoclonal antibody. So the first study is in ulcerative colitis. And the second study is in bullous pemphigoid. Bullous pemphigoid is an orphan autoimmune disease of the skin that occurs in about thirty thousand people in the United States, primarily in patients over 60 years old. So those are two studies that were successfully initiated in that past month, and that’s the most important news.
You mentioned the licensing agreement for AmiKet Nano. This is also very important, because we provided guidance that we were in active partnership discussions regarding AmiKet. We’ve improved the AmiKet package significantly with this novel topical nano-particle formulation, which essentially increases the patent life of the product by over ten years. So as a result of this agreement, we have I would say new and better companies coming at the table. So the transaction is taking a little bit more time than what we expected initially, but we’re creating significantly more value for the company and for our investors and obviously for our partner, because they can now look at a good 15 years of AmiKet being on the market without generic competition.
WSA: Great and, so what are some of the key trends that you’re targeting right now in this sector and how is the company positioned to capitalize?
Dr. Teper: Well, you know, immunology is not the core of the medicine and drug development, everybody’s been talking about immuno-oncology. And, and clearly this is not our number one focus, but we’re playing immuno-oncology to our NanomAbs, is a platform where we have antibody nano-particle conjugate in drugs for the treatment of cancer. But there’s also big trend in immune-dermatology, several drugs that regulate the immune system and many of them monoclonal antibodies have been approved for the treatment of diseases such as psoriasis. So we’re developing Bertilimumab for this, which is also monoclonal antibody for bullous pemphigoid and we’re looking at other indications in dermatology, such as atopic dermatitis.
Additionally, something that may not have been seen by many people, was we also licensed in a topical nano-particle formulation of Cyclosporine A. Cyclosporine A also called Neoral, is a drug which was originally developed by Novartis. It’s a drug that has been used over twenty years to prevent transplant rejection, but it’s also been used extensively for severe cases of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, so the ability for a topical form is extremely promising for dermatologists and it would be used in mild to moderate cases of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Although this is not a monoclonal antibody, this is a gold standard drug that regulates the immune system in dermatology, so we expect that Immune Pharma will have the potential to become a leader in Immuno-dermatology, with Bertilimumab for bullous pemphigoid and potentially atopic dermatitis, but also with the topical nano-particle formulation of Cyclosporine.
WSA: Great and so what are some of the keys factors Daniel that you feel make Immune Pharma unique from some of the other players in the sector?
Dr. Teper: Well, Immune Pharma is very focused on leveraging drugs that regulate the immune system to treat severe diseases. We have an extremely rich pipeline of core products such as, first Bertilimumab, but also topical nano-particle Cyclosporine and the NanomAbs for treatment of cancer, antibody nano-particle conjugate. At the same time we have several non-core drugs such ad AmiKet, but also some small molecule oncology drugs and that we are actively partnering. Our focus today is on partnering AmiKet and once we’ve partnered AmiKet, we have several other drugs that we also intend to partner, as a source of additional non dilutive capital.
WSA: Great and perhaps you can walk us through your background experience and talk about some of the key management there once again for some of our listeners that didn’t catch our previous interview.
Dr. Teper: I am Dr. Daniel Teper/ have been in the industry for over twenty years. I started at Novartis and I’ve worked both at the corporate headquarters in Basel and then in the U.S. in sales and marketing and in new product development. I later held general management positions, helped launched several industry blockbusters and advised top management from successful pharma and biotech companies. As a result, I was exposed to a number of breakthrough drugs, both from the research and development standpoint and from a commercialization standpoint.
I am very happy to have a strong management team.
Gad Berdugo is our Executive Vice President for Corporate Development and Chief Financial Officer, he also has industry background at companies like Abbott and Baxter. He was a banker at Lazard and more recently at a boutique M&A shop. So he’s really strong in both corporate development and finance, which is important for the company.
Paul Nadler, our Chief Medical Officer and head of R&D, we worked together at Novartis and he’s a well-known drug developer in oncology and immunology. And we recently brought on board’s executives, had experience at companies like Retrophin as well as Regeneron and Pfizer, so we’re really strengthening our management team.
We also have a Board of people that have significant experience in biotech pharma and on Wall Street. So we are a young company with a lot of energy and at the same time we bring the experience from the industry.
WSA: Certainly and what are some of the key milestones that you’re hoping to accomplish over the course of the next twelve months?
Dr. Teper: Well we have a number of milestones–we’ve initiated the Bertilimumab clinical trials. The first data that we expect is from the bullous pemphigoid study and although we do not control the pace of patient recruitment, we expect to have initial data late this year or in the beginning of 2016. The second study, which is more patient double blind, placebo control in ulcerative colitis data will probably be in mid to late 2016 as we can plan today. Additionally Bertilimumab has a number of potential additional indications. So we expect to have data from pre-clinical studies in those new indications that, by the way, includes liver diseases such as NASH., In later 2016 we plan to initiate clinical studies in NASH as well as severe asthma and Crohn’s Disease.
From a partnering standpoint, I would say the significant milestone that everybody is waiting for is AmiKet and we’re now expecting to have a U.S. transaction first and that’s our top priority and we have active discussions followed by European transaction and potentially bi-regional partnership for other territories. We also expect partnerships for the other in non-core drugs as well as for the NanomAbs, which are antibody drug conjugates. As we can see, it is always difficult to time exactly each of the milestones, but if you look at the next twelve months, you have a good number of pre-clinical, as well as clinical milestones, particularly for our lead drugs Bertilimumab and you have a number of partnering milestones for core and non-core products.
WSA: Great and so as far as investors and the financial community are concerned Daniel, do you believe that the Immune Pharma story and your message are completely understood and appreciated by them and if not, what do you wish investors better understood about the company?
Dr. Teper: Well the fact that we’re listed on NASDAQ and we recently rang the bell at NASDAQ, I think has significantly increased our exposure as well as the daily trading volume, which currently is between two and three hundred thousand shares a day. But on peak days it’s gone as much as a million plus shares. So that’s good for a microcap stock on NASDAQ and obviously we expect that it will improve with the upcoming milestones.
And at the same time there is still a disconnect between the market cap of Immune Pharma which is currently around $50 million and the value of each of the assets in our pipeline and the diversity of that pipeline. We have to go step by step, but we anticipate that the market will recognize the very significant potential of Immune as we execute the first few milestones and then we like Bertilimumab as a potential, to become an immunology blockbuster drug. Bertilimumab, plays in the same category as drugs like Humira and Remicade as well as the recently launched Novartis drug, Cosentryx, for psoriasis. So I think we are in very good company and that the market over the next few months will recognize the great potential of Immune Pharma.
WSA: Great and so once again joining us today is Dr. Daniel Teper, the CEO of Immune Pharma Incorporated, the company trades on NASDAQ, ticker symbol IMNP, currently trading at 1.88 a share, 52-week high of 4.25 and as mentioned a market cap of around 50 million. And before we conclude here Dr. Teper, to recap some of your key points, why do you believe investors should consider the company as a good investment opportunity today?
Dr. Teper: I think the number one reason to consider Immune Pharma is Bertilimumab. This is really a first in class drug in multiple indications with two clinical trials ongoing in Phase II with data expected in the next six to eighteen months. I would say, six for the first study and twelve to eighteen months for the second study,. The second reason is the diversity of the pipeline and the opportunity to partner in promising drugs like AmiKet and others. And certainly we have a strong management, which is growing stronger by the day with people that have proven experience in pharma and biotech companies as well as on Wall Street. That should guarantee the best possible execution to our milestones over the next 12 months.
WSA: Well we certainly look forward to continuing to track the company’s growth and report on your upcoming progress and we’d like to thank you for taking the time to join us today Dr. Teper and update our investor audience on IMNP. It was great to have you on again.
Dr. Teper: Thank you.