ContraVir Pharma to merge with Ciclofilin Pharma

ContraVir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CTRV) has entered into a definitive merger agreement with closely-held Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals.

Under the accord, ContraVir will acquire all of the outstanding equity interests in Ciclofilin for the right to receive future milestone payments, which will be allocated among the holders of Ciclofilin common stock.

The milestone payments will consist of up to $17-million cash and up to 10% of ContraVir’s issued and outstanding common stock, and will be paid on the achievement of certain developmental and/or regulatory milestones related to CPI-431-32, Ciclofilin’s lead development candidate.

CPI-431-32 is a next-generation non-immunosuppressive cyclophilin inhibitor shown to have best-in-class potency against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and a significantly larger selective index, compared with previously known cyclophilin inhibitors. It is anticipated that this large selective index will provide a meaningful degree of clinical utility in the treatment of chronic HBV infection.

Ciclofilin’s founder and CEO, Robert Foster, will join ContraVir in the role of CSO and will continue leading the development of CPI-431-32 into IND-enabling studies.

The merger will expand and strengthen ContraVir’s portfolio of complementary antiviral candidates targeting HBV, which includes CMX157, a highly potent lipid conjugate of tenofovir, currently undergoing Phase 1b/2 clinical trials.

“Completing this strategic transaction will firmly position ContraVir as an important player in the hepatitis B space,” James Sapirstein, CEO of ContraVir, said in a statement.

“Similar to our clinical stage candidate, CMX157, we will add to our portfolio what we believe is a superior molecule that improves significantly on the established efficacy and safety of the class of compounds from which it is derived, thereby enhancing its clinical utility as an antiviral,” he added.

In addition, the mechanism of action of CPI-431-32 is complementary to CMX157, each inhibiting distinct critical steps in the viral life cycle, adding robustness to ContraVir’s HBV portfolio.

“We look forward to completing the merger and to continuing the pre-clinical development of CPI-431-32 in preparation for potentially entering the clinic in 2017,” Mr. Sapirstein said.