Pharma Focus Asia

Aquinox Pharmaceuticals and Neoleukin Therapeutics announce merger agreement

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Neoleukin Therapeutics, Inc. (“Neoleukin”), a privately held biopharmaceutical company utilizing sophisticated computational methods to design de novo protein therapeutics, today announced that the two companies entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Aquinox agreed to the acquisition of Neoleukin, which is expected to close on or about August 8th, 2019. Pursuant to the merger agreement, Aquinox will acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Neoleukin in exchange for a combination of common and preferred shares.  In connection with the merger, Aquinox will be renamed as Neoleukin Therapeutics, Inc., and is expected to trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the new ticker symbol “NLTX”, concurrent with closing.

The combined company will focus on the development and commercialization of computationally-designed protein therapeutics to address significant unmet medical needs in immuno-oncology, inflammation, and autoimmunity. Neoleukin’s lead product candidate, NL-201, is a de novo protein designed to mimic the therapeutic activity of the cytokines interleukin-2 and interleukin-15 for the treatment of various types of cancer by activating both T-cells and NK-cells to fight cancer, while limiting toxicity with minimal loss of activity.

“Neoleukin Therapeutics is a new company based on sophisticated computational technology licensed from the Institute for Protein Design and the University of Washington that enables us to design and create de novo proteins as therapeutic candidates,” said Jonathan G. Drachman, M.D., CEO of Neoleukin Therapeutics. “In January, our scientific founders published their seminal findings in the journal, Nature. Since then, we have been advancing our lead program, NL-201, toward IND-enabling studies. The merger with Aquinox is transformational for our company, providing additional capital to prepare an IND submission, generate clinical data, develop additional preclinical programs, and advance our computational technology. We believe that cytokine mimetics, or NeoleukinsTM, have the potential to offer enhanced therapeutic effects with fewer toxic side effects.”

“Since announcing our plans to seek and consider strategic alternatives for Aquinox, our priority has been to identify a merger candidate we believe has the potential to continue our mission to help patients and provide meaningful value to our stockholders,” said David J. Main, President & CEO of Aquinox.  “Following an extensive evaluation and diligence process, the Aquinox Board of Directors concluded that a merger with Neoleukin, with a strong platform technology, seasoned leadership team, and compelling clinical development plan, offered an excellent opportunity to create such value.  We believe Neoleukin represents an attractive merger partner for Aquinox, offering a novel approach to creating de novo proteins for patients with unmet medical need.”

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