Immunotherapeutics firm Altimmune and biodefense therapeutics firm PharmAthene have agreed to an all stock merger to form a combined entity with four clinical-stage programs in development. Under terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the two boards of directors but has still to be approved by both firms’ shareholders, Altimmune will become a wholly owned PharmAthene subsidiary.

The combined entity will retain the Altimmune name, will be owned 58.2% by Altimmune shareholders, and will be headquartered in Altimmune’s home town of Gaithersburg, MD. At closing, and subject to customary conditions, the combined firm is expected to have approximately $20 million in cash and cash commitments.

The combined clinical pipeline includes Altimmune’s NasoVAX, HepTcell, and NasoShield candidates, and PharmAthene’s SparVax®-L anthrax vaccine. NasoVAX is an intranasal, recombinant influenza vaccine, developed using Altimmune’s RespirVec platform, which is expected to start in Phase II trials during 2017. HepTcell is a synthetic peptide immunotherapeutic candidate in development against chronic hepatitis B. Developed using Altimmune’s Densigen technology, HepTcell is currently in Phase I development. NasoShield is a single-dose intranasal anthrax vaccine, which has been developed using Altimmune’s RespirVec technology. The vaccine is being developed under a potentially $120.2 million, 5-year BARDA contract, announced in August 2016. Phase I studies are expected to start during the second half of 2017. SparVax-L is PharmAthene’s lyophilized anthrax vaccine, which is under development with NIAID funding. Phase II studies are anticipated to start during the second half of 2017. A preclinical immunotherapeutics program, Oncosyn, which also originates from Altimmune’s Densigen synthetic peptide technology, is in development for potential applications against multiple solid tumor types.  

“A merger with Altimmune is an ideal strategic match,” commented John M. Gill, president and CEO at PharmAthene. “By combining forces, we will diversify our portfolio into attractive commercial product opportunities and leverage our capabilities for developing next-generation anthrax vaccines.” Bill Enright, president and CEO of Altimmune, added, “The merger allows Altimmune to leverage PharmAthene's existing U.S. public company infrastructure, providing access to the capital markets, which is essential to the continued development of immunotherapeutics clinical programs, including NasoVAX, NasoShield, and HepTCell, that leverage Altimmune's proprietary platform technologies.”

In November 2016, PharmAthene received the final $83.9 million payment from a total $217 million from SIGA Technologies, under a Bankruptcy Reorganization Plan approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York during April 2016.

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