Portage invests in Stimunity S.A, a Paris-based cancer immunotherapy company

Published: Feb 28, 2018

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ - Portage Biotech Inc. ("Portage" or "the Company") (Canadian Securities Exchange: PBT.U, OTC Markets : PTGEF), is pleased to announce that it has made an investment in Stimunity, SAS ("Stimunity"), a Paris-based immuno-oncology company. Portage's will invest up to €2,000,000 subject to the successful completion of milestones. Stimunity will use the proceeds of this seed round to fund the preclinical development of its lead product, a potent biologic enhancer of the STING pathway that activates the immune system against tumor cells.

"The discovery of cancer checkpoint immunotherapy has made huge improvements in the treatment of multiple cancer types, particularly in highly inflamed tumors. However, typically 50% or more of patients won't respond and require better treatment options," said Dr. Ian B. Walters, a board member of Portage. "Scientists are searching for safe and effective agents to augment checkpoint activity, and drive long term responses in resistant tumors."

Stimunity's lead candidate is a Virus-Like Particle ("VLP") encapsulating the natural agonist of STING; these VLPs will fuse with immune cells and induce a potent T-cell response against tumor cells that are poorly immunogenic. The lead program is now at the early phase of preclinical validation. Nicolas Manel PhD, Stimunity's co-founder and the co-inventor of its technology is very confident, saying, "Early in vivo data shows that our approach synergizes with immune checkpoint therapies and leads to a potent therapeutic effect on distant tumors which is what most of patients need."

"The collaboration between Stimunity and Portage opens another chapter for Portage, providing the company with a program advancing into human testing. Stimunity's technology has the potential to stimulate the tumor microenvironment and promote an immune response in a safer and more potent fashion than other STING agonists. We believe these properties will enable Stimunity's STING agonists to become an important adjuvant to checkpoint inhibitors in non-immunogenic tumor types," said Greg Bailey, Chairman of Portage.

Stimunity's seed round will help the company complete its preclinical package and advance the manufacturing process used to create its virus-like particles to pharmaceutical grade. Dr. Ian B. Walters will chair Stimunity's Board of Directors. "We are very excited by our collaboration with Portage; it not only brings significant investment to the table, but also provides strong expertise in immuno-oncology and clinical development. We are happy to welcome Ian onto our board." said Sylvain Carlioz, co-founder and CEO of Stimunity.

About Stimunity

Stimunity is an early-stage research and development company focused on the development of STING agonists in cancer. The technology, licensed from Institut Curie, Inserm, and the University of Oxford, is based on a unique biologic approach which encapsulates endogenous STING-activating molecules in a Virus-Like Particle (VLP). Stimunity's drug has the potential to be best-in-class, activating the innate immune system and enhancing T-cell response against tumor cells with low immunogenicity.

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About Portage

Portage is engaged in supporting the discovery and development of pharmaceutical and biotech products through clinical "proof of concept" with a focus on areas of unmet clinical need. Following proof of concept, Portage will seek to sell or license these products to large pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies for further development and commercialization. Portage has an interest in novel targeted therapies, stem cell therapies, and new indications for older marketed products that have been found to have novel patentable characteristics that bring new value to patients.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal and Canadian securities laws. These forward-looking statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties, including statements that are based on the current expectations and assumptions of the Company's management. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this press release, are forward-looking statements. The use of certain words, including the "believe", "could", "expect" and "will" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The Company may not actually achieve the plans and objectives disclosed in the forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on the Company's forward-looking statements. Various important factors could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those that may be expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, including uncertainties relating to the future clinical success. Additional important factors to be considered in connection with forward-looking statements are described in the "Risk Factors" section of the Company's quarterly financials and Management Discussion and Analysis and annual Report in Form 20-F filed on SEDAR and EDGAR. The forward-looking statements are made as of this date and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

SOURCE Portage Biotech Inc.


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