Drug Development

Long-suffering Eleven hands the reins over to a new CEO with his own pipeline plans

Toronto-based Viventia Bio has found a short route onto Nasdaq. The biotech has arranged to get acquired by Cambridge, MA-based Eleven Biotherapeutics, little more than a shell with a bank account now that its lead drug failed twice and it completed a deal to license out its remaining program to Roche. And Viventia CEO Stephen Hurly will now remain at the helm, operating as Eleven.

Abbie Celniker

Abbie Celniker

In the deal, Eleven $EBIO purchased Viventia’s stock in exchange for a little more than 4 million shares and an unspecified set of milestones. And Hurley will continue to do what he was doing before, developing new cancer drugs that fuse antibody fragments with cytotoxic proteins.

Eleven’s shares were up 8% in premarket trading today.

That Roche deal pumped $30 million into the company, money that will now be put to use developing Viventia’s pipeline, which includes two lead drugs.

The furthest advanced is vicinium, which is in a Phase III study for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer with topline data expected in the first half of 2018. Investigators for the biotech say they registered a 40% complete response rate in mid-stage work. The other drug is proxinium, which is expected to enter Phase II in early 2017 for late-stage squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Eleven was created by Third Rock. The biotech experienced its first train wreck when EBI-005 (isunakinra)—an IL-1 receptor inhibitor—flunked a Phase III study for dry eye disease back in May of last year. But the biotech managed to rally investors for another charge into a separate Phase III trial to study the drug’s impact on allergic conjunctivitis.  That study also failed, leaving CEO Abbie Celniker with one final program in her hands, which was licensed to Roche in mid-August. Celniker will now step aside as CEO and stay on the board.

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