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Immune Design (IMDZ) Loss Narrower than Expected in Q1

Immune Design Corp. IMDZ reported a first-quarter 2016 loss of 61 cents per share, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 65 cents but wider than the year-ago loss of 56 cents.

Quarter in Detail

Immune Design’s total revenue was $1.9 million, down 3.9% from the year-ago period but above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1 million.

Research and development (R&D) expenses shot up 41.6% to $10.6 million primarily due to expenditure related to the advancement of the CMB305 and LV305 programs to phase I and phase II clinical trials, and the development of G103. General and administrative expenses were also up 2.9% to $3.9 million.

Pipeline Update

Immune Design continues to progress with its pipeline. The company’s “prime boost” immunotherapy candidate, CMB305 (involving the sequential dosing of two complementary agents – LV305 from the ZVex platform and G305), has completed the first-in-human dose-escalation study and is currently undergoing an expansion study as a single agent in patients with cancers expressing the NY-ESO-1 tumor antigen. Enrolment is ongoing and data from the study is expected to be presented this June.

Alongside, a randomized phase II trial on CMB305, in combination with Roche Holdings’ RHHBY investigational anti-PD-L1 therapy atezolizumab, compared to atezolizumab alone, for locally advanced, relapsed or metastatic soft tissue sarcoma is currently underway. Data are expected in the fourth quarter of 2016.

We note that the company has achieved full patient enrollment in a phase I study on LV305 as a single agent, wherein the candidate showed a consistently favorable safety profile and an improved clinical benefit profile using progression-free survival as an endpoint.

Meanwhile, Immune Design is collaborating with Merck & Co. Inc. MRK to evaluate G100 and LV305, in combination with Merck’s Keytruda, in phase I studies for the treatment of patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma, respectively. We remind investors that the company has completed a phase I study on G100 in patients with merkel cell carcinoma, with data from the full set of patients indicating a favorable safety profile and consistent clinical efficacy. Data are expected in June. The company has also initiated a randomized trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of G100 and low-dose local radiation in patients with low-grade follicular lymphoma.

Our Take

Immune Design’s narrower-than-expected loss in the first quarter was encouraging. Going forward though, we expect investor focus to remain on pipeline updates from the company. 2016 is expected to be data-rich year for Immune Design given several data readouts lined up.

Immune Design carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another well-placed stock in the health care sector is Shire plc SHPG, carrying the same rank as Immune Design.

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