By Bryant Haskins
Durham-based CoImmune, a cell therapy company acquired by two South Korean biotech firms last year, will continue to grow through a merger with another East Coast biotech firm.
Originally known as Argos Therapeutics before its 2019 purchase by SCM Lifescience Co., Ltd. and Genexine, Inc., CoImmune is merging with Berwyn, PA-based Formula Pharmaceuticals. No financial details were released, but CoImmune said $6 million will be invested at the close of the deal to fund the development of Formula’s technology platform to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
CoImmune uses patients’ own immune systems to fight disease. The company manufactures patient-specific dendritic cells that function as immune system sentinels, patrolling the body and seeking out tumors and infected cells to warn the immune system of oncoming disease.
Formula develops unique Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) immunotherapies to fight cancer. The company said its CAR-CIK (Cytokine Induced Killer) technology is designed to address the therapeutic and commercial shortcomings of other CAR T therapies on the market. CAR T treatments use specially altered T cells – a part of the immune system – to attack cancer cells.
The combined company will focus on running a Phase 2b trial for CoImmune’s leading drug candidate, CMN-001 – which is under development to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma – and a Phase 1 trial for CAR-CIK in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“We are excited about the opportunity of bringing together two therapeutic immune-oncology platforms to maximize our clinical and commercial value,” said Charles Nicolette, CoImmune’s CEO. “We evaluated numerous potential merger and acquisition opportunities and believe that Formula has a best-in-class allo CAR-based technology and a solid base of investors that can deliver significant value.
“We believe that both companies complement each other,” he added, “and together this relationship will enable us to continue our therapies toward US FDA approval in the near future.”