Israel’s Alcobra started out 2017 with a disaster, forced to concede that their Phase III study of MDX — its only drug in the clinic — had flopped against a placebo. The news ruined its share price $ADHD and set in motion the search for a new future that ended with the news that it struck a reverse merger deal with the RNA biotech Arcturus.
Arcturus will now steer its way into the public market with a combined company that has $40 million in cash and some new options on raising more. The biotech also has a few partners, including Takeda (on NASH) and Ultragenyx, with plans to move into the clinic for the first time.
Arcturus has specialized in bagging millions in grant money for much of its work, using messenger RNA and other RNA technologies to target the malfunctions that spawn disease-causing proteins. Back at the end of May, for example, the company gathered $3 million from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to fund work on that disease.
“Our goal is to establish Arcturus as a leading RNA medicines company and this merger will enable us to accelerate the development of our RNA medicines,” said Arcturus CEO Joseph Payne. “We believe our proprietary chemistry and drug delivery platforms represent significant advancements in the development of RNA medicines that we and our partners are applying to the treatment of rare and high-incidence diseases where we can have a distinct medical and commercial advantage. In addition to our existing collaborations and internal proprietary programs, we plan to pursue additional strategic partnerships to support other medical applications of our technology.”
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