Cocrystal Pharma said today that it has closed on its merger with RFS Pharma, in a deal that creates a combined drug developer focused on antiviral treatments for human disease.

The combined company will look to capitalize on Cocrystal's expertise in small-molecule drugs that target replication enzymes, with the nucleoside experience of RFS Pharma, founded in 2004 by Raymond F. Schinazi, Ph.D., D.Sc. to develop new drugs for hepatitis infections and emerging viruses.

Specifically, the companies said, the combined entity intends to have a broad pipeline of products targeting hepatitis, influenza, rhinovirus, dengue fever, and norovirus—with several classes of agents such as nucleoside prodrugs, NS5A inhibitors, non-nucleoside inhibitors, and helicase inhibitors.

“Together, we will be able to flourish as an organization that can accelerate progress towards drug approval of novel treatments and cures for serious viral diseases,” Dr. Schinazi said in a statement.

Dr. Schinazi, who is also RFS Pharma’s chairman, founded several other successful biotechnology companies. These include Pharmasset, acquired by Gilead Sciences for $11.4 billion in 2012; Idenix Pharmaceuticals, acquired earlier this year by Merck & Co. for $3.85 billion; and Triangle Pharmaceuticals, acquired 2003 by Gilead.

Now, Dr. Schinazi and Gary Wilcox will co-chair the combined company, with Wilcox also serving as its CEO. The new company’s CSO will be Roger Kornberg, Ph.D., one of the founders of Cocrystal. Dr. Kornberg is winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, as well as professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Following the merger, shareholders of Cocrystal and of RFS Pharma each own approximately 50% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis.

Headquartered in Bothell, WA, publicly-traded Cocrystal previously received strategic investments from The Frost Group, owned by Phillip Frost, MD; OPKO Health, of which Dr. Frost is chairman and CEO; and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, whose chairman is also Dr. Frost.

Dr. Frost is also among directors of the combined company formed by Cocrystal and RFS. Other directors include Gary Wilcox, Steven D. Rubin, Jane Hsiao, David Block, Jeffrey Meckler and Raymond F. Schinazi.

Headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of Tucker, GA, privately-held RFS Pharma in-licensed anti-hepatitis technology from Emory University in 2013. RFS has also identified preclinical stage compounds for hepatitis infections, analogs that are effective against noroviruses, and has its own novel nucleoside prodrug technology.

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