Portage Biotech (NASDAQ: PRTG) is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company advancing first-in-class therapies that target known checkpoint resistance pathways to achieve durable treatment response and improve quality of life for patients with cancer. They aim to revolutionize cancer research and development and have created a model dedicated to the advancement of diverse drug platforms, bolstered by proven practices from drug discovery veterans and a strong industry network. The result is a viable product development strategy that supports commercial potential and company growth.
(Taken from their website www.portagebiotech.com)
8.7.21 – Ian Walters, CEO of Portage Biotech, discusses the challenges facing immuno-oncology and the unique approach the company has taken.
- 2 x AI platforms, Bill Gates backed Relation Therapeutics and JUV backed NetraPharm, to analyse combinations, repurpose and fast track trials.
- 5 products in clinic by the end of the year. At least 6 in development. These are EACH multi-billion treatments.
- Access to major pharmas. Especially Merck and BMS.
- Backed by Jim Mellon and an ex-BMS team.
Overview of Portfolio
(notes provided with thanks from Telegram Group)
Smallest to largest…
8th Sentien Biotech
Sentien Biotech is a big beast…as you can see by the investment and the percentage we own. They pioneer cell therapy to treat a range of ‘vital organ failures’…basically boosting and restoring a balance to the immune system after such an injury. They have completed Phase 1 and 2 human trials for kidney failure. In low doses they have passed with flying colours, no toxicity and in Feb ‘18 the FDA approved their product (SBI-101) to extend to the treatment of acute liver failure. Phase 3 trials to start anytime…full company update sent to Dr Ian Walters a few months ago. They now have at least 2 spin off products. Possibly a sale here as it doesn’t fit our remit if Cancer immunotherapy going forwards. Update…they now have 3 products on the go and are also helping with ‘covid 19 related kidney damage’.
7th Intensity Therapeutics
Investment: $2,000,000 +
Another big beast…as we know. We know plenty about Intensity and their product INT230-6…a novel, delivery platform that injects drugs into tumours, permeating the cell walls and focusing treatment rather than just dosing a patient, hence limiting side effects. We also know it’s delivered directly into the tumour so can ‘reach anywhere that a needle can reach’ treating a whole range of cancers. Initial trials are for breast cancer types but this will be extended. Phase 1/2 trials show safety, even in large doses. Now partnering Merck and their product (KEYTRUDA) which should further boost the immuno-response. Already showing signs of tumour shrinkage at the site AND in metastasis in a good % of patients. 4 Breast cancer patients with refractory cancers already been successfully treated. Phase 2 trials coming. Update: as of March 2020 Intensity are also partnered by BMY and their product Yervoy. Clearly LOTS of interest in INT230-6 and a statement from Lew Bender highlighting that INT230-6 works fine as a standalone treatment for cancer…’they need us rather than us needing them’. Will surely be a target for a buyout soon.
Investment: $2,240,662 app
A combination of work between the Institut Curie in France and Oxford University. They have created ‘virus-like’ particles that fuse with immune cells, inducing a powerful, immuno-response. So far only tested in theory and animals…but having spoken to their CEO Sylvain Carlioz…he’s certain that their product is ready to begin phase 1/2 testing in the near future. Update…Stimunity reached a new milestone in May 2020 and are now in production for their lead treatment to begin testing.
Still at an early stage (pre-clinical) they focus on autoimmune issues and oncology and have created antibodies that can be used in the fight against cancer. Note: these antibodies target not only solid tumours but also haematological malignancies. Early days. Currently in dispute with Portage as they claim they have reached the milestone to access the next tranche if funding which Portage disputes.
Currently dead….RiFT is a therapeutic antibody company focused on Immuno-Oncology targets outside of the T-cell space. Seeking future funding but given a ‘NIL’ value in the portfolio. However…the treatment works in pre-clinical trials but will need at least another $1k to restart. Won the Golden Ticket Sponsored by Boehringer Ingleheim in 2017 which helped them set up the business with minimal costs.
3rd IoX Therapeutics
Big, big investment for Portage. Formed on research from The Ludwig Institute for Cancer and Oxford University. IoX produce compounds similar to Intensity, aimed at penetrating tumour cells. Their product IMM60 was ready for phase 1/2 testing in 2018 when a manufacturing fault damaged a batch of it. After further investment they are now back on track with phase 1/2 trials due to start next month having taken delivery of a new batch of IMM60.
Using a European Horizons 2020 grant they have formulated a second product (IMM65) also ready for human testing. The beauty of IoX is that Oxford university will be paying for the human trials at no extra cost to Portage. With such a large holding…this could be transformational for the Portage Portfolio. They are currently beginning phase 1/2 trials and hope to have their treatment ‘in the clinic’ in 2020! Update: Currently working with Hill Dickinson on their marketing strategy. (IPO incoming?)
Share: 70% / 100%
Another early stage investment…but massive potential. They pioneer nanolipogel technology…a way of delivering multiple medicines directly into a tumour with no side effects (unlike chemotherapy). Formed at Yale university…they formed a spin off company (Oncomer) that uses this nanolipogel technology and another companies product (PD1 aptamer D5) a bit like Intensity are with Merck. This product attaches to the tumour cells and makes them visible to the immune system. More news on Oncomer to follow. An early start up…but well organised and very promising. Update…reached POC in May 2020 and received funding for the next level of their development.
Oncomer now 100% owned by Portage and making the nanolipogel tech for Saugatuck to use.
1st PPL/EyGen (Now owned by Juvenescence)
Share: – future royalty payment up to $244m
Formed by Portage themselves…their main current investment is an anti-inflammatory which treats ‘dry eye disease’. Already passed phase 2 trials but will most likely be ‘sold on’ as least fits the cancer-immunology remit.
$PRTG ‘vs’ #AVCT
In case people missed it, Ian Walters was quizzed on Avacta platform Vs INT 230-6. Here was the response:
“The promise of Intensity’s technology (we are trying to prove currently) is that you will be able to inject the tumor safely without a lot of systemic side effects, and break up/kill the tumor in a way that the immune system creates a vaccine effect against the tumor which can hunt down other microscopic sized cells that you cant see and prevent recurrence. This is what we see in the animals, and we are seeing hints of this process in our human study. This is a different approach from Avacta which is trying to deliver drugs systemically and shield them from causing side effects on normal healthy tissue by linking targeting technology to the killing agents. We know that our drug doesn’t harm healthy cells ( the FDA made us do a study in healthy animals when we injected our product into healthy organs, and did not see any damage on autopsy). Our technology has a built in targeting ability by leveraging the unique properties of the cancer cell membrane which is quite different from a healthy cell. Our drug does not go into healthy cells, and only enters cancer cells. In fact we have shown that we can inject 3 times the systemic doses of the chemo without any significant side effects since the drug only goes into cancer cells and doesn’t come out. There is still work to be done to define which setting to use this with, and in combination with what other drugs, but we are pleased with the fact that we have reproduced most of what was initially shown in mice in humans.
As you know this is one of many different approaches we take at Portage to train the immune system to fight cancer, I believe that this is the best approach to long lasting benefit. In the intensity trial, many patients have long periods of time off treatment without side effects and a good quality of life. It is important that the treatment is not worse than the disease it is treating.