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Inotek Pharmaceuticals announces merger deal with Rocket Pharmaceuticals

Published 14 September 2017

Inotek Pharmaceuticals announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with US-based gene therapy company Rocket Pharmaceuticals.

Subject to shareholder approval, the combined company will retain the name Rocket Pharmaceuticals and will be headquartered in New York City.

 The combined company will focus on developing and advancing its pipeline of gene therapies based on lentiviral virus (LVV) and adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy platforms, with a focus on treating devastating rare diseases.

“We have conducted an exhaustive strategic process focused on proactively identifying assets that have clear biological plausibility and a high unmet need. As a result of this process, I’m delighted to announce a merger with Rocket as the best scenario for value creation for our stockholders,” said David P. Southwell, president and chief executive officer of Inotek.

Rocket’s focus for its lentiviral gene therapies is bone marrow disorders caused by gene mutations. Lead programs include Fanconi Anemia (FA), Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-1 (LAD-1) and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD).

Current treatment options available for patients with these diseases are limited and include allogeneic bone marrow transplant procedures, which are often complicated by graft versus host disease and a lack of available donors.

Rocket’s gene therapy approach could be potentially curative and replace or pre-empt the need for transplant. Longer term, Rocket is also developing a lentiviral-based gene therapy for infantile malignant osteopetrosis, an inherited bone disorder.

In addition, Rocket is advancing an AAV-based program for an undisclosed rare pediatric disease with a significant estimated patient population size (15,000+ prevalence in the US/EU).

“Our vision is to create a fully-integrated platform gene therapy company with a portfolio of distinct treatments for devastating genetic diseases,” said Gaurav Shah, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Rocket.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, shareholders of Rocket will receive shares of newly issued Inotek common shares in a private placement. Rocket shareholders are expected to own approximately 81% of the combined Company and current Inotek shareholders will own approximately 19% of the combined Company.

The percentage of the combined Company that Rocket’s shareholders will own as of the close of the transaction is subject to adjustment based on the amount of Inotek’s net cash at the closing date. The merger agreement contains further details with respect to this adjustment and the transaction. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of both companies. The merger is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval by stockholders of Inotek.

Inotek Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies for ocular diseases, including glaucoma.

 In July 2017, the Company announced top-line results of its Phase 2 fixed-dose combination trial of trabodenoson and latanoprost for the treatment of glaucoma.

The trial did not meet its primary efficacy endpoint and the Company has since discontinued development of trabodenoson in order to focus on evaluating strategic alternatives.

Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. is an emerging biotechnology company focused on developing first-in-class gene therapy treatment options for rare, undertreated diseases.

The Company’s lead program is a lentiviral-based gene therapy for the treatment of Fanconi Anemia (FA), a difficult to treat genetic disease that leads to bone marrow failure and potentially cancer.

Source: Company Press Release