Immunocore is a clinical-stage biotech founded in 2008 with technology spun out from Oxford University in 1999. The company operates in the fast-evolving field of immuno-oncology (treatments that use the immune system to kill cancers) and its foundation is based on T-Cell Receptor (TCR) technology. We first invested in the company in July 2015, following first-in-man clinical data on their lead asset.

Since then, the company has continued to deliver outstanding data as its lead asset has progressed through clinical studies and it has built a robust pipeline with substantial commercial potential, which is attracting increasing attention from institutions such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, Immunocore also has multi-target discovery partnerships with a number of large healthcare companies, such as AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Genentech and GlaxoSmithKline.

Investment case summary

The company operates in one of the fastest growing areas of the healthcare industry – the immuno-oncology market which, in recent years, has been gaining more attention from regulators, investors and the wider life sciences industry. Our investment case in Immunocore is constructed around the company’s considerable potential to create shareholder value by using its proprietary platform technology to develop new treatments and subsequently commercialising them.

The company’s pipeline is diverse and includes its lead asset, IMCgp100 – currently in a pivotal clinical study for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma, a rare cancer with no approved treatments, and a range of earlier-stage drug candidates, like IMC-C103C and IMC-D104C which are being developed as potential treatments for various types of solid cancer. However, the company is also looking to apply its technology beyond the field of immuno-oncology. In this respect, the collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was concluded in September 2017, represents a significant step forward for the company’s longer-term strategy of developing therapies in areas other than cancers, including infectious and autoimmune diseases.

Immunocore has progressed through a number of inflection points already and we are confident that it will continue to meet further value accretive milestones going forward.

Ask a question about our investment in Immunocore

Fund exposure
Equity Income Fund 0.95%
Patient Capital Trust 4.89%

As at 28 February 2019

Aggregated portfolio weight across more than one line of stock.

Geography United Kingdom
Industry Health Care
Themes Healthcare innovation

Source: Woodford


New chief executive appointment

Immunocore has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, Bahija Jallal, who joins following 25 years in leadership roles in the pharmaceuticals industry, most recently as President of Medimmune, AstraZeneca’s biologics research and development unit. At Medimmune, Bahija played a central role in building the pipeline, including overseeing five new drugs to approval.

In addition, Immunocore has also revealed it has appointed David Berman as Head of Research and Development. David (who joined in October 2018) has had a distinguished career in oncology drug development, most recently as Senior Vice President and Head of the AstraZeneca Immunooncology (IO) Franchise, where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of the company’s late stage IO programme.

In our view, these are both very high calibre appointments. Bahija’s experience puts her in a great position to lead Immuncore through the next, scale-up phase of its development.

Saku Saha
7 January 2019

Partnership with Genentech

Today, Immunocore has announced it is entering into a new partnership with Genentech, to expand an existing discovery collaboration. As part of the agreement, Genentech will pay Immunocore $100 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments.

Under the terms of the agreement with Genentech, Immunocore will lead the first-in-human clinical trial to establish safety and preliminary efficacy of a new therapy known as IMC-C103C. The clinical trial, which is scheduled to commence in early 2019, will enrol patients across a number of solid tumour types. Immunocore retains an option to continue to co-develop the therapy through commercialisation, or to fully license the candidate to Genentech in return for royalty and milestone payments upon establishing proof-of-concept data.

This looks like a very good deal for Immunocore both in terms of the upfront financial value, and the further validation of the technology that it provides, from an existing partner opting to strengthen their relationship.

Saku Saha
19 November 2018

Execution milestone

Today Immunocore has announced the start of a phase I study for an ImmTAC molecule (IMCnyeso) in patients with solid tumours. The study is part of an ongoing collaboration with global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. It is designed to assess the safety and tolerability of IMCnyeso in patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and synovial sarcoma (a rare form of cancer which occurs primarily in the extremities of the arms or legs).

We view this announcement as an execution milestone for Immunocore, which triggered a payment to the company. This represents the second ImmTAC being dosed in patients, following its main asset IMCgp100. Although this is an early-stage asset, successful development of IMCnyeso can trigger further milestone payments, as well as royalties for Immunocore.

Saku Saha
20 August 2018

Encouraging trial data

Immunocore has this morning announced that it is presenting positive data today at ASCO (the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest cancer conference) for IMCgp100-102 in metastatic uveal melanoma, a rare but aggressive form of eye cancer.

This new data builds on the prior published data in the same patients and there are several elements from which we can take encouragement. Patients in the Phase I arm of the trial continue to experience a durable tumour response and, although the median overall survival rate has not yet been reached, the median follow-up is now at 19.1 months. This represents an encouraging indication that the therapy is proving effective in patients suffering from a condition in which survival rates have remained largely unchanged for decades.

This is still early data, but it does provide positive evidence that IMCgp100 can offer hope to an underserved patient population. Immunocore continues to enrol for the pivotal Phase II portion of this study.

Saku Saha
4 June 2018

WPCT 2017 annual report case study

Immuno-oncology leader

Spun out of Oxford University in 2008, Immunocore is at the forefront of the fast-growing field of immuno-oncology (treatments that use the immune system to kill cancers). The company’s T cell receptor (TCR) technology alters white blood cells known as T cells to recognise and attack cancerous ones.

Its main TCR asset, IMCgp 100, is currently in a pivotal clinical study for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma, a rare eye disease with no current treatments. It also has a range of earlier-stage drug candidates, which are being developed as potential treatments for various types of solid cancer.

Major partnerships

In addition to its own pipeline, the £1bn-valued company has secured partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies including Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and MedImmune, the biologics division of AstraZeneca. In late 2017 it received $40m of backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

24 April 2018

Read the full report

Leadership change

Today Immunocore announced that its chief executive office, Dr. Elliot Forster, has stepped down from his position. Under Elliot’s leadership, Immunocore has progressed to become one of the UK’s most promising and valuable biotechnology companies. The business has delivered impressive clinical data in uveal melanoma and has invested in its rich pipeline and people to ensure the company can move on to the next stage of its development. His legacy is a business that is well-positioned to fulfil its potential and become a multi-billion dollar UK biotechnology success with global scale.

Saku Saha
8 February 2018

Neil's view

T-cell therapies, such as CAR-T, and immuno-oncology more broadly are areas of interest for us to which we have exposure through the likes of Autolus, Cell Medica and Immunocore. The deal and the price paid for Kite Pharma, shines a very positive light on the future potential of these assets and the growing interest that major pharma companies are showing in the technology.15 September 2017

.​.​.Immunocore can deliver significant further growth as it progresses towards the commercialisation of its highly promising technology and advances additional development candidates towards the clinic.15 June 2017

Immunocore presented compelling data from its lead programme, IMCgp100, at the world’s biggest oncology conference – the American Society for Clinical Oncology. The data demonstrated a meaningful improvement in progression free survival for patients with the condition. Effectively, this means that the drug doubles the length of time the condition stays stable without progressing further.15 June 2017

Woodford Investment Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number 745433). Incorporated in England and Wales, company number 10118169. Registered address 9400 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2HN.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc is incorporated in England and Wales, company number 09405653. Registered as an investment company under section 833 of the Companies Act 2006. Registered address Beaufort House, 51 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP.

© 2019 Woodford Investment Management Ltd.
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