TapImmune and Marker Therapeutics merge to create new I/O company
- TapImmune has snapped up privately-owned Marker Therapeutics to create a new company based on a non-genetically engineered, multi-antigen T cell therapy platform. The stockholders of each company will own around half of the combined company, which will combine Marker Therapeutics' portfolio of T cell therapies in early clinical trials in blood cancers to TapImmune's peptide- or nucleic acid-based T-cell cancer vaccines.
- The company will be rebranded, but the new name has not yet been disclosed, TapImmune CEO Peter Hoang told BioPharma Dive in an email. Hoang will be the new president and CEO of the combined company, with Marker co-founder Ann Leen as CDO, and the company will be headquartered in Houston, TX.
- Through common stock purchase agreements and warrant amendment agreements, the new company will receive around $5.1 million in equity financing, and Marker CEO John Wilson has committed to financing of up to $1 million. TapImmune is also in discussion over financing that will fund the combined company into 2020. TapImmune's share price opened 5% up on the news.
Immuno-oncology remains the "brave new world" of cancer research, with increasing numbers of cancer immunotherapeutics entering clinical trials and reaching the market.
The global immuno-oncology market is seen surpassing $100 billion by 2022, according to a report from Research and Markets.
Marker claims to be taking a different approach from those currently being studied, creating adoptive non-genetically-modified cell therapies for blood cancers, with multi-antigen targeting technology to reduce immune escape and increase the chance of durable immunity.
"I believe that the new therapies… represent the next major leap forward in cell therapy for cancer. The merger adds... a portfolio of highly-differentiated T cell therapies that has demonstrated potentially groundbreaking results in early clinical trials in lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma," Peter Hoang, President and CEO of TapImmune, said in a statement.
Hoang sees Marker's pipeline as one that could add value to his company.
"We believe that the two technologies are highly complementary, and we are very much looking forward to the benefits and synergies we think we can drive from the combined platforms. We… do not plan to divest any part of the portfolio, although, of course, we continually assess the portfolio from a strategic standpoint," Hoang told BioPharma Dive in an email. "We do not anticipate job losses resulting from the merger – in fact the merger places us in the position of considerably accelerating our growth versus our plans as a standalone company."
TapImmune will also finalize a strategic alliance with Baylor College of Medicine, which will include sponsored research, manufacturing support and early stage clinical trials at the institution.
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