YM will be able to launch clinical trials in Australia with its lead anticancer agent.

YM BioSciences has proposed to merge with Melbourne-based Cytopia to complement its cancer-focused pipeline. The stock-for-stock deal will also allow YM the opportunity to begin clinical trials in Australia with its oncology drug nimotuzumab, which is already approved in 21 countries. YM will also now begin to supply nimotuzumab to patients in Australia through a Special Access Scheme that has already been launched.

Nimotuzumab is marketed in countries like Brazil, India, and China but not in the U.S. or Europe. It has a large global development program spanning indications like non-small-cell lung cancer, pediatric and adult glioma, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, as well as head and neck cancer.

Cytopia has two candidates in clinical development: CYT997 is a vascular-disrupting agent (VDA) currently in Phase II trials in relapsed glioblastoma multiforme as well as relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, and CYT387 is an orally active JAK2 inhibitor that recently received clearance to enter a Phase I trial in myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs).

“While the continued development of our lead product nimotuzumab remains our highest priority,” states David Allan, chairman and CEO of YM BioSciences, “we believe the timing is appropriate to expand our pipeline, consistent with our business model, leveraging our existing resources and expertise to select from the opportunities offered to us in order to continue to enhance the value of YM.”

CYT997 has demonstrated potent disruption of existing tumor vasculature and therefore has the potential to synergize with existing marketed antiangiogenesis agents like Avastin that only target novel blood vessel formation, YM reports. The molecules availability in both oral and intravenous formulations differentiates it from most other VDAs, which are typically available in intravenous form only.

“We believe that CYT997, with its dual mechanisms of vascular disruption and cytotoxicity, has the potential to be broadly active against a range of tumor types,” says Andrew Macdonald, CEO of Cytopia. “It acts similarly to other tubulin-binding agents such as paclitaxel and vincristine by directly affecting tumor cell replication but also by shutting down the tumor vasculature, essentially starving the tumor cells.”

Cytopia’s other product, CYT387, targets a signaling pathway known to play a role in the development of MPDs and in the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells such as prostate, breast, and liver as well as multiple myeloma. It has shown promising activity in suppressing the overactivity of the mutant JAK2 enzyme, according to Cytopia.

Cytopia shareholders are being offered 0.0852 common shares of YM in exchange for each common share of Cytopia. This offer is based on the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of YM shares for a recent 20-trading day period and incorporates a 30% premium to Cytopia’s recent 20-day VWAP. The transaction would result in YM issuing approximately 7.2 million new shares.

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