Immune Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a privately held Israeli company, and EpiCept Corporation today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. The transaction is anticipated to close during the first quarter of 2013 and is subject to satisfaction of certain customary closing conditions, including the approval of a majority of EpiCept shareholders.
The combined company, to be named Immune Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Immune Pharmaceuticals”), will be primarily focused on developing antibody therapeutics and other targeted drugs for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer. Immune’s lead product candidate, bertilimumab, is a full human monoclonal antibody that targets eotaxin-1, a chemokine involved in eosinophilic inflammation, angiogenesis and neurogenesis. Immune is currently initiating a placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase II clinical trial with bertilimumab for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
The companies’ collective oncology portfolios comprise: Immune’s NanomAbs ®, a new generation of antibody drug conjugates, and EpiCept’s vascular disruptive agents. Immune Pharmaceuticals will continue efforts to secure a partner for EpiCept’s Phase III clinical development candidate AmiKet™, for which efficacy has been demonstrated for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain and post-herpetic neuralgia. Daniel Teper, PharmD, CEO of Immune and Robert Cook, Interim President and CEO of EpiCept, jointly commented: “This transaction will create a publicly traded specialty biopharmaceutical company with a portfolio of four clinical-stage drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer. Immune’s bertilimumab, a first in class monoclonal antibody, is being evaluated clinically to address unmet medical needs in multiple severe disease indications. EpiCept’s Amiket™ has clinical data in over 1600 patients in various neuropathies, Fast Track designation and Phase III Special Protocol Assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as a defined clinical path through the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain.”