MabVax Therapeutics will acquire Telik through a merger that will form a single cancer drug developer, to be run by MabVax top management and 85% owned by that company’s holders of shares, warrants, and options. 

Under the all-stock deal—whose value was not disclosed—publicly traded Telik would be renamed MabVax Therapeutic Holdings, and focus on the development of immunotherapy-based products to diagnose and treat cancer.

Cancer therapies are the focus of both Telik and today’s privately-held MabVax – whose two lead products are proof-of-concept Phase II vaccine candidates for sarcoma and ovarian cancer. Both are the subject of fully-enrolled studies, with overall survival results expected in 2016.  MabVax’s pipeline also includes a neuroblastoma vaccine preparing to enter a Phase II clinical trial, three other Phase I vaccines, and two preclinical products, including the anti-sialyl Lewis X antibody 5B1.

MabVax exclusively licenses its vaccine candidates from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where the experimental therapies were developed.

MabVax is developing 5B1 into a pancreatic cancer-imaging agent through a contract with the NIH. MabVax recently signed a manufacturing contract with Gallus Biopharmaceuticals to provide clinical trial supplies for its Phase I clinical program involving 5B1. That program is scheduled to start in 2015. 

“Through this transaction we hope to expand our current clinical platform as we pursue our lead monoclonal antibody product, 5B1, and clinical stage cancer vaccine programs.  We hope to see several of our programs achieve significant milestones in the next 24 to 30 months,” J. David Hansen, MabVax’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Hansen said the combined company would enjoy an expanded pipeline, including a Phase III-ready drug with FDA orphan designation available for licensing, as well as access to public markets and added financial resources.

The Phase III-ready drug is Telik’s Telintra® (TLK-199), a glutathione S-transferase P1-1 (GSTP1-1) inhibitor indicated for hematologic disorders including myelodysplastic syndrome—a form of pre-leukemia in which the bone marrow produces insufficient levels of one or more of the three major blood elements (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) and may ultimately progress to leukemia.

Telik focuses on developing treatments discovered using its TRAP® drug discovery technology, designed to enable rapid and efficient discovery of small molecule drug candidates. Another Telik pipeline candidate, Telcyta® (TLK286), is a cancer cell-activated chemotherapeutic that has shown clinical activity in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials in advanced ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.

Hansen would hold the same position and add the role of chairman of the board in the newly-combined MabVax. Telik’s current president and CEO, Michael M. Wick, M.D., will remain on the board.

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