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BioCryst, Idera Plan Merger in Tie-Up of Rare Disease Drug Developers

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals and Idera Pharmaceuticals have struck a deal to combine into a single company focused on treatments for rare diseases.

The stock deal announced Monday calls for each share of Research Triangle Park, NC-based BioCryst (NASDAQ: BCRX) to be exchanged for 0.50 shares of the new company. Idera (NASDAQ: IDRA) shareholders will get 0.20 shares of the new company for each Idera share. When the merger closes, BioCryst shareholders will own 51.6 percent of the combined company, and Idera shareholders will own the remaining 48.4 percent.

The new company, which will be renamed after the merger closes, will be headquartered in Exton, PA, where Idera is currently based. It will consolidate research operations in Birmingham, AL, where BioCryst has labs. Idera CEO Vincent Milano will lead the combined company and hold a seat on its board of directors. BioCryst CEO Jon Stonehouse will also join the new company’s board. BioCryst’s chairman, Robert Ingram, will be chairman of the new company.

By joining forces, BioCryst and Idera can pool their resources behind their respective late-stage clinical programs. BioCryst is in Phase 3 studies testing BCX7353, an experimental treatment for hereditary angioedema (HAE), an inherited disorder in which patients experience sudden attacks of inflammation and swelling in the face and lips. Two years ago, a three-times-a day formulation of the BioCryst drug failed a Phase 2 study. BioCryst now says it is on track to begin Phase 3 testing of the compound in the first quarter, this time with a once-a-day capsule.

Idera’s Phase 3 compound, IMO-2125, is in testing for melanoma that has not responded to treatment. The study is testing the drug in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE: BMY) FDA-approved melanoma immunotherapy, ipilimumab (Yervoy). Idera plans to provide an update on the compound during the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in June, according to documents filed with the SEC. Another Idera compound, IMO-8400, is in Phase 2 testing as a treatment for dermatomyositis, an inflammatory disease that leads to muscle weakness as well as redness and rashes on the skin.

In total, the combined company’s drug pipeline will have nine rare disease programs and approximately $243 million in cash to support them. BioCryst and Idera say the merger also gives the new company two different approaches to discovering more drug candidates.

The boards of BioCryst and Idera have already approved the merger. Shareholders of both companies and regulators still need to sign off on the deal. The companies expect to close the transaction in the second quarter.

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