Job Cuts and Facility Reductions Loom Over SoCal's ImmunoCellular
Published: Aug 24, 2017
August 24, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
LOS ANGELES – Financial concerns continue to plague ImmunoCellular Therapeutics as the company continues to look for cost-cutting measures that will provide enough resources to fund continued R&D on the company’s Stem-to-T-Cell research program.
On Wednesday, the company said it is cutting its operating costs and reducing personnel and its facilities in order to fund continued work in the program. In its announcement, ImmunoCellular did not specify what those reductions will look like or how much the company could save from those actions. Additionally ImmunoCellular announced it intends to obtain additional financing through a variety of strategies, including issued equity and warrants, or through the receipt of grants and awards. ImmunoCellular leadership is also not ruling out a potential merger or divestment of some or all of its assets.
"The board and management of ImmunoCellular remain committed to pursuing a viable strategic path forward for the company, with the goal of realizing the value of our immuno-oncology technology platform and assets,” Anthony Gringeri, ImmunoCellular’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are focusing resources on advancing our research-stage Stem-to-T-Cell program in collaboration with leading academic researchers and contract laboratories. We are also continuing to explore opportunities to partner our development-stage programs."
The Stem-to-T-Cell platform has the potential to address many types of cancer, including both solid and hematological tumors, according to ImmunoCellular. ImmunoCellular believes its Stem-to-Cell therapy is a stronger approach to developing killer T cells than CAR-T programs being developed by rival oncology companies such as Novartis or Kite. The company did say its program could be used in combination with some CAR-T platforms.
The company said it is anticipating some near-term milestones in the program including completion of loading of the T cell receptor DNA sequence into a viral vector during the third quarter of 2017 and transfection of the human hematopoietic stem cells by the loaded viral vector. These transfected stem cells are anticipated to ultimately be able to produce an unlimited supply of killer T cells bearing the desired T cell receptor. The killer T cells are designed to specifically target and destroy tumor cells, the company said.
“Unlike CAR-T therapies which deliver a large bolus of active T cells into the patient's circulation and have been associated with toxicity in some patients, ImmunoCellular's approach enables a more gradual and measured release of killer T cells and has the potential for lower toxicity while also yielding a more sustained response,” the company said in its statement.
Once proof-of-concept has been established, ImmunoCellular can progress to testing in preclinical models, the company said. In June, financial concerns forced ImmunoCellular to suspend the Phase III glioblastoma therapy, ICT-107. The patient-specific, dendritic cell-based immunotherapy was halted so the company could determine a path forward for the candidate, which could include a licensing deal or acquisition by another company.
Lack of finances is not just impacting company employees. Gringeri said the company was also reducing the number of people serving on its board of directors. Mark Schlossberg and Gregg LaPointe resigned their positions from the board effective Aug. 15.