Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation Acquires OnCore Biopharma

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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation Acquires OnCore Biopharma
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation TKMR

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals announced Sunday that it has agreed to acquire Pennsylvania-based OnCore Biopharma. The combined company will focus on developing Hepatitis-B treatment by combing multiple treatment methods. Once the transaction is completed, OnCore will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tekmira. OnCore shareholders will own roughly 50% of the newly formed company on a fully-diluted and as-converted basis.

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OnCore chairman to be the new chairman of Tekmira

The implied market value of the combined entity is $750 million, more than double Tekmira’s current market value of $350 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Tekmira CEO Mark Murray will remain the chief executive of the new entity, but its chairman Daniel Kisner will become vice-chairman. OnCore Biopharma’s chairman Vivek Ramaswamy will be the new chairman of the combined entity. The deal was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

The Canadian company is expected to capitalize on the global Hepatitis-B market opportunity. Tekmira said it would use eight unique drug candidates in combination to develop a “curative regiment of HBV.” It is already working to create an all-oral cure for Hepatitis-B infection. Its TKM-HBV will enter Phase-1 clinical trials this quarter. Tekmira is planning Phase-2 clinical studies for second-half of this year.

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OnCore has multiple Hepatitis-B candidates

OnCore Biopharma has several Hepatitis-B candidates. Its lead product OCB-30 will enter Phase-1 clinical trial later this year. OCB-30 is a second-generation cyclophilin inhibitor that suppresses the viral replication. Meanwhile, Tekmira will continue with its anti-viral and oncology programs, including Ebola. In October last year, the Canadian company began limited production of its TKM-Ebola drug.

Late last year, Tekmira said that it will supply its improved TKM-Ebola for clinical studies in West Africa. The company will make available 100 courses of TKM-Ebola-Guinea treatment, in collaboration with Oxford University, for the studies. Tekmira’s improved drug targets the Ebola-Guinea variant of the deadly virus that is responsible for the worst Ebola outbreak on record. Ebola has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and others.

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  1. The Chief Scientific Officer of the combined company is the co-inventor of Sovaldi (he was at Pharmassat which was acquired by GILEAD and left Gilead when he handed over his research and according to one interview, felt marginalized and wanted to do more research). If he repeats his achievement with Hepatitis B it is possible that Tekmira could be acquired downstream by Gilead or another company wanting to make a HBV play. This is a big deal with a stronger likelihood of success than many high risk biotechs. Combining a portfolio of patents and resources really does make this a “Hepatitis B powerhouse”, and that’s a blockbuster drug target with enormous potential. TKMR’s ebola application is also important but not the main value driver.

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