Merger is expected to speed development of Hunter’s COPD vaccine.

Australian firm, Hunter Immunology, has recommended that its shareholders accept a proposed takeover bid by Probiomics. The reverse takeover offer, which major shareholders in Hunter say they will vote in favor of, offers nine Probiomics’ shares, valued at $0.011 each, for each Hunter Immunology share, valued at $0.099 each. Hunter would own about 89% of the merged group, which would start with a market capitalization of about $37.2 million. After the acquisition, Probiomics would aim to raise some $4.4 million from this issue of new ordinary shares at $0.22 per share.

Hunter’s lead clinical-stage product is a vaccine for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and potentially other respiratory disorders affecting airway surfaces. The product, HI-164OV, is currently in the latter stages of a Phase IIb COPD clinical trial in 320 patients in Australia. An IND application with FDA has also been filed requesting approval to start studies in the U.S. Results from the ongoing Phase IIb study are due in April 2012. The firm says that, if data from this study are positive, then it will look for a licensing partner to take the drug through further development. Data from a previous Phase IIa study suggested that the treatments lead to significant reductions in hospital admissions for patients with moderate-to-severe COPD.

Hunter is exploiting two platform technologies. The primary platform is focused on the development of orally administered immunotherapeutics that activate an immune response on mucosal surfaces such as the lower airways and sinuses. The second platform, Etxb, is a genetically engineered drug-delivery platform that can deliver protective antigens into cells to induce a clinically targeted and effective immune response.

Probiomics is focused on exploiting its probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum platform, PCC®, for the development of OTC products, functional foods, and pharmaceuticals. The development pipeline includes ongoing and planned clinical trials to evaluate efficacy of the PCC® organism in indications including inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, arthritis, and otitis media. 

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