• Sonic has taken a stake in Microba
  • Immutep enters into second deal with Merck (Germany) and Pfizer 
  • ImpediMed has a new CEO


Sonic takes strategic stake in Microba

Giant healthcare stock Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) has bought a stake in small cap Microba Life Sciences (ASX:MAP), sending the MAP share price 60%+ higher this morning.

Sonic took a 19.9% stake at 26c a share as it seeks to acquire options for a further 5% stake.

Microba focuses on gut health with a revenue-generating business in microbiome testing.

The company sells these testing products to healthcare practitioners and gets paid on fee-for-service basis.

Microba and Sonic have agreed on the terms to deliver the microbiome testing technology into Australia, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States.

“This strategic partnership with Sonic is set to accelerate international distribution of Microba’s microbiome testing into primary and specialist healthcare, and move our testing deeper into routine patient management,” said Microba’s CEO, Dr Luke Reid.

Sonic CEO Dr Colin Goldschmidt says the stake in Microba exemplifies Sonic’s commitment to invest in cutting edge technology in laboratory medicine.

“We see microbiome testing becoming a key part of pathology over the coming years,” said Goldschmidt.

“We’re excited about the potential of this partnership and the opportunities that Microba’s technology will provide for Sonic’s global operations, our referring clinicians, and our patients,” he added.


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PYC injects $10m equity into Vision Pharma

PYC Therapeutics (ASX:PYC) has increased its stake at subsidiary Vision Pharma to 95.2% (previously 93.5%).

The deal was done via a $10 million re-capitalisation and following the transaction, the stake held by Lions Eye Institute in Vision Pharma has decreased to 4.8%.

Vision Pharma owns the VP-001 Program targeting Retinitis Pigmentosa Type 11.

The company is set to conduct in-vivo genotoxicity studies on VP-001 prior to its anticipated submission of an FDA IND (investigational new drug) application in Q1 2023.

The funds injected from PYC today will enable Vision to commence the anticipated clinical trials in the first half of 2023, should approval be provided by the US FDA.


Immutep extends Merck and Pfizer deal

Immutep (ASX:IMM) has entered into a second clinical trial collaboration agreement with Merck (Germany) and Pfizer to study Immutep’s LAG-3 candidate, Eftilagimod Alpha, combined with Avelumab to treat urothelial cancer.

The new Phase I clinical study called INSIGHT-005 will examine patients with urothelial cancer, and builds on Immutep’s strategy to increase target indications for its drug candidate when combined with standard of care drugs.

The collaboration with Merck and Pfizer also builds on the encouraging clinical data previously reported from the INSIGHT-004 trial.

“We are very pleased to be deepening our collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer through this new study in patients with urothelial cancer,” said Immutep CEO, Marc Voigt.

“Urothelial cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the US, which is in need of treatment options.”

The INSIGHT-005 trial will take place in Germany, with the first patient expected to be dosed in the first of half of 2023.


4D Medical’s $9.4m milestone

4D Medical (ASX:4DX) has received a $9.4 million payment from the Australian Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) after successfully meeting product development milestones.

This payment represents an instalment of the $28.9 million Federal Government investment to fund the development of the world’s first dedicated lung scanner, the XV Scanner.

The XV Scanner is manufactured in Melbourne and was built by combining 4DX’s proprietary XV Technology with purpose-built hardware.

It provides detailed quantitative data on respiratory function via an automated scanning process.

The first exported XV Scanner is now on display at 4DMedical’s booth at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago.

ImpediMed’s new CEO

ImpediMed(ASX:IPD) announced the appointment of Richard Valencia as CEO of the company, effective 1 December 2022.

Prior to taking the role, Valencia was interim chairman and CEO of WaveForm Diabetes, a US$60 million glucose monitoring technology manufacturer.

He brings 30 years of leadership in the healthcare and technology industry sectors.

“I am confident that Rick is the leader that will propel the company to future success,” said Impedimed chair, Don Williams.


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