Battered by a late-stage setback in March, tiny Edge Therapeutics $EDGE has provided cancer immunotherapy company PDS Biotechnology Corp. a vehicle for a quick reverse merger onto Nasdaq. The company’s shares — which ended last week deep in penny stock territory — skyrocketed nearly 43% premarket on the announcement.
In late March, Edge reported that a pre-specified interim analysis of its lead drug, EG-1962, which was being investigated in a late-stage study involving patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) — a frequently fatal brain bleed caused by the rupture of an aneurism — would likely fail. Based on that recommendation, the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey-based company decided to abandon the experimental drug. A month later Edge said it was exploring strategic alternatives.
On Monday, Edge and PDS announced that the combined company — with PDS shareholders keeping a majority 70% and existing Edge investors retaining the remaining 30% share — would have sufficient cash to fund operations till 2020. The merged entity, which will retain the PDS name and trade under a so far unspecified ticker on the Nasdaq, will focus on developing next-generation cancer immunotherapies based on PDS’ Versamune technology.
The platform is based on man-made cationic lipids that are designed to promote intracellular delivery of tumor-related antigens and activate immunologic signalling pathways that induce the proliferation of killer T-cells that attack and kill cancerous cells. PDS Biotechnology is gearing up to initiate multiple Phase II/III clinical trials for its lead experimental product, PDS0101, in HPV-associated cancers.
Co-founder and chief of PDS Frank Bedu-Addo will continue at the helm, while Edge CEO Brian Leuthner will take on the role of president of the combined company. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.
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