AmpliPhi Biosciences will combine with C3J Therapeutics to create what it says will be a leader in targeted bacteriophage therapeutics.
The combined NYSE American-listed company will boast a broad clinical-stage pipeline, including a Phase I/II-ready natural phage candidate targeting bacteremia, and a synthetic phage candidate targeting respiratory infections expected to enter Phase I later this year.
In a conference call discussing the planned merger, Paul Grint, CEO of San Diego, California-based AmpliPhi Biosciences, said the joint entity will be “a leader in the development of targeted bacteriophage therapeutics.”
Bacteriophages, or simply ‘phages,’ are viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria and archaea.
Using phages to treat bacterial infections has a long history, though it has only been extensively used when access to antibiotics has been limited, for example in the Soviet Union. But with increasing resistance to antibiotics and Big Pharma losing interest in developing substitutes, phages could represent a major opportunity.
Merging with C3J brings AmpliPhi a “partnered synthetic bacteriophage program with a US based global pharmaceutical company,” Grint told stakeholders. “The proposed merger was established to better capitalized company with greater resources to develop and commercialize targeted bacteriophage therapeutics, which will continue to be publicly listed.”
He added: “This is especially important now at the time when key regulatory bodies, including the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization recognize the eminent threat posed by increased antimicrobial resistance.”
After the deal closes, C3J securityholders will own approximately 70% of the combined company, while AmpliPhi securityholders will own approximately 30% of the combined company. Certain C3J shareholders have also committed to invest $10 million to the new entity to help fund preclinical and clinical programs.
AmpliPhi has a 600m2 GMP manufacturing plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and C3J has operations in Los Angeles.
“We believe this is a key differentiator for the combined company in this exciting field,” said Todd Patrick, CEO of C3J. “The combination of our two companies takes place against the backdrop of the rising and unmet medical needs created by antibiotic resistant infections. Our shared philosophy is that phage can bring a solution to this urgent public health threat.”
While the merger may result in over-capacity, he said the current plan is to “keep both facilities fully operational and we will just have to see as we move along what the needed capacity is depending on our own programs and partner programs.”