Category Archives: PIPEs

Cancer Immunotherapies Attracting Interest

I’ve always been a bit skeptical of cancer immunotherapies, particularly the use of patients’ own immune system to target tumors. Just look at CancerVax, Cell Genesys, Favrille, and Genitope. One of the major obstacles has been eliciting a strong enough immune response to adequately treat the cancer. Another is identifying the right molecular targets to attack only the tumor cells. Nonetheless, cancer immunotherapies appear to be attracting interest according to Trading Markets.

The FDA approved Dendreon’s cancer vaccine, Provenge, last year for the treatment of prostate cancer. Dendreon’s market cap is now over $4.5 billion. More recently, Amgen acquired BioVex for its oncolytic virus, OncoVex, currently in Phase 3 trials to treat metastatic melanoma and head and neck cancer. Amgen agreed to pay up to $1 billion for BioVex depending on sales milestones. Immunocellular Therapeutics just raised $8.1 million in a PIPE to complete a Phase 2 trial for its dendritic cell vaccine, ICT-107, to treat gliobastoma.

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Update on PIPEs

A little while ago, I wrote a post on the attractiveness of PIPEs to some VCs due to valuations. The PIPEs Report released a first quarter review of PIPE transactions in April. Despite a decrease in the overall number of PIPE deals (35% decrease in the total number of deals completed and over 75% decrease in total value), biopharma PIPEs increased. There were 43 biopharma PIPEs out of a total of 101 in Q1. For the same quarter last year, biopharma deals only accounted for 15% of all PIPEs vs. 23% this year. Biopharma companies raised over $600M this quarter on PIPE transactions. It’s hard to say whether the attraction of PIPEs will continue or whether VCs will return to more traditional private placements. There is evidence that VCs do add value to public companies that they invest in. It will be interesting to see how these biopharma PIPEs perform in the next year or so.