BioCryst Pharmaceuticals said it will buy Presidio Pharmaceuticals in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $101 million, under a merger agreement approved by the boards of both companies and expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Publicly-traded BioCryst, whose shares closed at $4.11 yesterday, designs and develops small molecule drugs that block key enzymes involved in infectious and inflammatory diseases, while privately held Presidio is a clinical stage developer of small-molecule antiviral therapeutics for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The combined company will have lead programs in infectious and orphan disease indications, including HCV and hereditary angioedema, anchored by three oral, pan-genotypic antivirals suitable either for development in combination with each other or in combination with other direct acting antivirals to treat patients with HCV infection.

“Our initial focus will be on commencing HCV curative Phase IIa combination trials with our NS5A inhibitor PPI-668, while advancing both our nucleoside and non-nucleoside inhibitors through Phase I proof-of-concept trials next year,” says Richard Colonno, Ph.D., Presidio’s chief scientific officer.

PPI-668, Presidio’s lead HCV candidate, targets the viral NS5A protein, and is ready to enter Phase II clinical development. Presidio is also advancing PPI-383, a pan-genotypic, non-nucleoside inhibitor of the viral NS5B polymerase as a second, complementary HCV antiviral candidate. PPI-383 is currently undergoing IND-enabling studies to support initiation of clinical studies alone and in combination with PPI-668 during 2013.

BioCryst’s portfolio includes the potent HCV NS5B-targeted nucleoside analog BCX5191, which has completed IND-enabling safety studies and is expected to enter Phase I trials before the end of this year. BioCryst has also completed IND-enabling studies for BCX4161, an inhibitor of plasma kallikrein, a validated target for the treatment of HAE. Phase I trials of BCX4161 are also expected to begin before the end of 2012.

In addition to BCX5191 and BCX4161, BioCryst’s drug development portfolio includes peramivir, a viral neuraminidase inhibitor for the treatment of influenza in Phase III development, and ulodesine, a Phase-III-ready purine nucleoside phosphorylase inhibitor for the treatment of gout. BioCryst plans to announce the outcome of a planned interim analysis reevaluating the sample size required for the primary efficacy analysis of the peramivir study before the end of this year.

The combined company will launch under a new name and will be headquartered in Durham, NC, where BioCryst was based, with facilities in San Francisco where Presidio is based, and Birmingham, AL.

Jon P. Stonehouse, BioCryst’s president & CEO, will be CEO of the combined company, while Presidio chairman Kenneth Galbraith will be non-executive chairman of the new company’s board.

The merger is subject to approval by BioCryst shareholders, and completion of a minimum $60 million equity financing. BioCryst has received voting commitments from certain significant Presidio shareholders sufficient to ensure Presidio shareholder approval, while Presidio said some of its shareholders have provided definitive commitments to purchase $25 million of the $60 million financing.

In exchange for that $25 million and all outstanding Presidio shares, BioCryst said it will issue a total of 24.5 million shares of its common stock to Presidio’s shareholders, subject to adjustment based on Presidio’s working capital at closing and other factors.

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