International Biotechnology Trust (IBT) 31 Aug 2002 Page 8
Subsequent to the end of the reporting period £0.4m was invested in the US-based company,
XOMA. XOMA has expertise and capabilities in the development and manufacture of antibody
therapeutics and has a healthy pipeline of biologics. Risk is diversified by partial ownership of a
number of different compounds and deals are in place with Genentech, Onyx and Millennium.
The company's lead candidate is Raptiva, which was originated by Genentech. Raptiva is a
humanized monoclonal antibody in Phase III for moderate to severe psoriasis and Phase II for
rheumatoid arthritis. Favorable Phase III trial results in psoriasis were reported in 2001,
however, in April of this year Genentech announced that the filing for regulatory approval of
Raptiva would be delayed due to discrepancies in pharmacokinetic properties between material
produced at small and commercial scales. In September 2002, the companies announced that
a Phase III trial using solely commercial material achieved its primary endpoint and that they
plan to file for approval by the end of 2002.
In December 2001, IBT participated in a PIPE (public investment in private equity) in
Epimmune, increasing its investment by £1.4m to £6.2m. Epimmune has designed therapeutic
drug candidates to treat disease by stimulating the body's immune system to respond
aggressively to infections and certain types of tumour. The company has also designed
preventative drug candidates to protect against disease by teaching the immune system to
react quickly when exposed to infectious agents. Epimmune has started a Phase I/II HIV
vaccine trial and expects to file an IND for a lung and colorectal cancer vaccine early in 2003.
A further £2.7m was invested in Aspect Medical (total investment £3.4m), £1.1m in AnorMED
(total investment £5.8m but subsequent sales reduced this to £5.0m), £0.7m in Novuspharma
(total investment £2.6m), and £0.6m in Atrix Laboratories (total investment £2.0m).
The holdings in Biocompatibles, Biogen and Elan were sold in their entirety during the period,
along with the remaining holdings in CeNeS Pharmaceuticals, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and
Vernalis Group. In December 2001, Medimmune acquired Aviron, which resulted in a net gain
of £1.1m for IBT.
The holdings in OSI Pharmaceuticals, Corvas, Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, and Forest
Labs were reduced in size during the period under review.
In March 2002, as reported in the interim report, IBT invested £2.1m in CancerVax, an
unquoted US-based company. CancerVax's CANVAXIN is a therapeutic cancer vaccine
containing at least 30 known tumour and melanoma-associated antigens which are believed to
enhance the overall immune response to cancer. CANVAXIN has been administered to over
2,000 patients and is currently in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of advanced stage
melanoma, a disease with few effective or well-tolerated treatments. In May of this year the
FDA put a hold on enrollment in the PIII trial and asked for certain information related to the
production, characterisation and testing of the vaccine. We do not believe that the hold on new
patient enrollment is the result of clinical practice or safety concerns related to the vaccine as
patients already receiving CANVAXIN were permitted to continue to do so and patients already
deemed to have met the eligibility criteria for the trial were allowed to receive the vaccine.
Earlier in the year CancerVax brought in additional early stage product candidates for the
treatment of solid tumour cancers through the acquisition of the private company Cell-Matrix.