THE WOODLANDS, Texas--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPXA), a biotechnology company developing Tcelna®, a patient-specific T-cell immunotherapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), today announced the conversion of the Company’s outstanding 12% convertible secured promissory notes into shares of common stock. Notes in the aggregate principal amount of $3.185 million plus accrued interest were converted into an aggregate of 1,714,697 shares of Opexa common stock on September 24, 2013 at a conversion price of $1.91, which represented the most recent closing market price of Opexa’s common stock at the time of conversion. Opexa intends to file a Form S-3 registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to register the common stock.
“Through the conversion of these notes, the Company is now debt-free and has strengthened its balance sheet considerably”
The conversion of the notes also triggered the release of $500,000 of restricted cash to Opexa that has been held in a controlled account, as well as the release of the security interest in all other assets of Opexa.
“Through the conversion of these notes, the Company is now debt-free and has strengthened its balance sheet considerably,” commented Neil K. Warma, President and Chief Executive Officer of Opexa. “Importantly, this transaction enables us to preserve cash for the continued funding of our ongoing Abili-T clinical trial in patients with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.”
Opexa’s mission is to lead the field of Precision Immunotherapy™ by aligning the interests of patients, employees and shareholders. The Company’s leading therapy candidate, Tcelna®, is a personalized T-cell immunotherapy currently in a Phase IIb clinical development program (the “Abili-T” trial) for the treatment of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Tcelna is derived from T-cells isolated from the patient’s peripheral blood, expanded ex vivo, and reintroduced into the patients via subcutaneous injections. This process triggers a potent immune response against specific subsets of autoreactive T-cells known to attack myelin.
About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological disease in young adults. It is estimated that approximately two million people have MS worldwide.
While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common. The Secondary Progressive form of MS represents about a third of the MS patient population.
For more information visit the Opexa Therapeutics website at www.opexatherapeutics.com.
Tcelna is a potential personalized therapy that is under development to be specifically tailored to each patient's disease profile. Tcelna is manufactured using ImmPath™, Opexa's proprietary method for the production of a patient-specific T-cell immunotherapy, which encompasses the collection of blood from the MS patient, isolation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, generation of an autologous pool of myelin-reactive T-cells (MRTCs) raised against selected peptides from myelin basic protein (MBP), myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) and proteolipid protein (PLP), and the return of these expanded, irradiated T-cells back to the patient. These attenuated T-cells are reintroduced into the patient via subcutaneous injection to trigger a therapeutic immune system response.
Opexa is currently conducting a Phase IIb study of Tcelna. Named “Abili-T,” the trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in patients who demonstrate evidence of disease progression with or without associated relapses. The trial is expected to enroll 180 patients at approximately 30 leading clinical sites in the U.S. and Canada with each patient receiving two annual courses of Tcelna treatment consisting of five subcutaneous injections per year. The trial’s primary efficacy outcome is the percentage of brain volume change (atrophy) at 24 months. Study investigators will also measure several important secondary outcomes commonly associated with MS, including disease progression as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), annualized relapse rate and changes in disability as measured by EDSS and the MS Functional Composite.
Cautionary Statement Relating to Forward-Looking Information for the Purpose of "Safe Harbor" Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995
This press release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements contained in this release, other than statements of historical fact, constitute "forward-looking statements." The words "expects," "believes," "anticipates," "estimates," “enables,” "may," "could," "intends," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Investors are cautioned that statements in this report which are not strictly historical statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding a registration statement for resale of the common stock and the financing and development of the Company's product candidate, Tcelna (imilecleucel-T), constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks associated with: market conditions; our capital position; our ability to compete with larger, better financed pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; new approaches to the treatment of our targeted diseases; our expectation of incurring continued losses; our uncertainty of developing a marketable product; our ability to raise additional capital to continue our development programs (including to undertake and complete any ongoing or further clinical studies for Tcelna), including in this regard our ability to satisfy various conditions required to access the financing potentially available under the purchase agreements with Lincoln Park Capital Fund, LLC (“Lincoln Park”) (such as the minimum closing price for our common stock and the requirement for an ongoing trading market for our stock); our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of shares of our common stock under the purchase agreements with Lincoln Park or under our at-the-market (ATM) facility; our ability to maintain compliance with NASDAQ listing standards; the success of our clinical trials (including the Phase IIb trial for Tcelna in secondary progressive MS which, depending upon results, may determine whether Ares Trading SA (“Merck”) elects to exercise its option for an exclusive license to Tcelna for the treatment of MS (the “Option”)); whether Merck exercises its Option and, if so, whether we receive any development or commercialization milestone payments or royalties from Merck pursuant to the Option; our dependence (if Merck exercises its Option) on the resources and abilities of Merck for the further development of Tcelna; the efficacy of Tcelna for any particular indication, such as for relapsing remitting MS or secondary progressive MS; our ability to develop and commercialize products; our ability to obtain required regulatory approvals; our compliance with all Food and Drug Administration regulations; our ability to obtain, maintain and protect intellectual property rights (including for Tcelna); the risk of litigation regarding our intellectual property rights or the rights of third parties; the success of third party development and commercialization efforts with respect to products covered by intellectual property rights that we may license or transfer; our limited manufacturing capabilities; our dependence on third-party manufacturers; our ability to hire and retain skilled personnel; our volatile stock price; and other risks detailed in our filings with the SEC. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We assume no obligation or undertaking to update any forward-looking statements to reflect any changes in expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. You should, however, review additional disclosures we make in our Annual Reports on Form 10 K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K filed with the SEC.