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Targovax to prioritize resources on unlocking the potential of its circRNA platform

  • Targovax has an early-mover advantage in circRNA, a novel area of RNA therapeutics attracting substantial interest from pharma and investors internationally
  • Targovax remains confident in the significant potential of ONCOS-102, but due to the currently challenging market conditions phase 2 development will only proceed once a partnership or additional financing is secured
  • The externally funded collaborative clinical studies with enhanced mutant RAS vaccine TG01 will proceed as planned in the USA and Norway
  • The new focus will significantly reduce costs and enable acceleration of circRNA development to unlock its full platform potential, supported by the proposed Atlas financing

Oslo, Norway, 7 March 2023 Targovax ASA (OSE: TRVX) today announces that it will focus existing financial resources on developing its circular RNA (circRNA) platform to capitalize on its significant early-mover advantage and globally competitive position. This prioritization will substantially reduce costs and enable further acceleration of the circRNA platform development in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, supported by the proposed financing from Atlas Special Opportunities, LLC (“Atlas”).

Targovax has a differentiated vector-based approach to circRNA delivery and a unique opportunity to develop a leading position in this emerging area of novel RNA therapeutics. The global deal value for private RNA biotech financings more than doubled during 2021-22, with circRNA concepts accounting for >40% of the total deal value. Given this substantial current momentum and a rapidly advancing field, Targovax’s management and board of directors believe the company’s current resources should be prioritized to accelerate the circRNA program.

ONCOS-102 has shown strong data in phase 1 and a scientifically solid and differentiated phase 2 development plan has been established, endorsed by international cancer experts, partners, and regulators. However, in order to conserve capital the company has made the decision to only proceed with the phase 2 program once a partnership and / or additional financing has been secured. The overall cost for the ONCOS-102 phase 2 study, including associated manufacturing and supply, is estimated at up to NOK 400m. As such, this decision will result in substantial cost savings and reduced cash burn.

The TG01 mutant RAS cancer vaccine program will be unaffected. Two collaborative clinical trials are currently proceeding in the USA and Norway, supported by academic and commercial partners and research grants from Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council.

Dr. Erik Digman Wiklund, CEO of Targovax, said: “Given the current challenging biotech funding environment, we have decided to prioritize resources towards accelerating the pre-clinical circRNA program. Our world-leading circRNA scientists have established a clearly differentiated approach, which provides a unique opportunity to capitalize on our early-mover advantage in this emerging area of rapidly increasing interest among industry partners and investors. We still strongly believe in the potential of ONCOS-102, and we are looking at strategic options to enable continued clinical development.”

Damian Marron, Chairman of Targovax, added: “The biotech sector globally, and particularly in Norway, has faced severe headwinds over the past 18 months. Given our current share price and the high capital requirements of the ONCOS-102 development program, the board has concluded that prioritizing our unique and proprietary circRNA program offers the clearest path to create shareholder value in the near- to mid-term. Our team of scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, led by circRNA discoverers CEO Dr. Erik Digman Wiklund and Head of Research Dr. Thomas Hansen, will now be able to fully focus on delivering on the significant potential of our circRNA platform. The Atlas financing is essential to provide us with access to flexible capital to execute this plan, and the board strongly recommends all shareholders to support the proposed NOK 300m convertible bond facility.”

About circular RNA

CircRNA is an emerging class in the rapidly expanding field of RNA therapeutics, with the potential to overcome key challenges of linear mRNA, including chemical instability, immunogenicity and delivery, which currently limit its therapeutic applications. Targovax has a unique proprietary circRNA vector delivery approach, circAde, which has broad potential in areas including oncology, vaccines, gene therapy and cell therapy. The circAde system is clearly differentiated from competitors, with the only known approach for circRNA delivery to solid tumors, and is protected by unique know-how and a rapidly expanding IP portfolio.

An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) is to be held at the Company’s offices at Lysaker on 9 March 2023 at 10:00 CET for the purpose of approving the investment agreement for up to NOK 300m in convertible bonds with Atlas.

For further information, please contact:
Erik Digman Wiklund, CEO
Phone: +47 413 33 536

Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations
Phone: +47 922 61 624

Media enquires:
Andreas Tinglum – Corporate Communications (Norway)
Phone: +47 9300 1773

About Targovax

Activating the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax (OSE:TRVX) is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing immune activators to target hard-to-treat solid tumors. Targovax’s focus is to activate the patient’s immune system to fight cancer, and to bring benefit to cancer patients with few available treatment alternatives. Targovax is developing its product candidates in different cancer indications, including melanoma, mesothelioma, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer.

Targovax’s lead clinical candidate, ONCOS-102, is a genetically modified oncolytic adenovirus, which has been engineered to selectively infect cancer cells and activate the immune system against the tumor. ONCOS-102 has demonstrated a favorable efficacy, immunological and safety profile in several indications, both as monotherapy and in combinations, and a phase 2 trial in melanoma patients resistant to PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor treatment is under planning.

Targovax has also established a cutting-edge circular RNA (circRNA) program with the intent to develop next generation RNA therapeutics for various applications, building on clinical experience and deep mechanistic insights from its first generation products.  In addition, Targovax has a KRAS immunotherapy program, with lead candidate TG01 due to enter clinical trials in an enhanced format in pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma during early 2023. This provides Targovax with a rich pipeline of innovative future therapeutic candidates.

This information is considered to be inside information pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation, and is subject to disclosure requirements pursuant to Section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act. The stock exchange announcement was published by Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations, Targovax ASA.

Source: Targovax