Meeting handshake
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Clinical-state pharmaceutical companies MEI Pharma and Infinity Pharmaceuticals announced today they have entered a definitive merger agreement in an all-stock deal that will see Infinity become a wholly owned subsidiary of MEI Pharma. Based on pre-merger valuations, MEI share holders are expected to own 58% of the company and per-merger Infinity shareholders 42%.

The combined company will boast three clinical-stage drug development programs targeting a range of cancer indications. Infinity is currently developing a first-in-class oral immuno-oncology macrophage reprogramming candidate eganelisib. The plan is to evaluate the drug in combination with PD-1 targeted checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for indication in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

MEI brings two clinical-stage candidates to the table: voruciclib and ME-344. Voruciclib is an oral CDK9 inhibitor, which is currently being studied in combination with venetoclax (Venclexta) in patients with hematologic malignancies; ME-344 a novel tumor selective mitochondrial inhibitor targeting the OXPHOS pathway, is being evaluated in combination with bevacizumab (Avastin) in patients with relapsed colorectal cancer.

The merged company will have roughly $100 million in cash on hand to provide it with an ample runway.

“The combined organization will have three differentiated clinical-stage oncology assets, expected funding into mid-2025 to reach clinical data in all three programs, and a team with extensive oncology clinical development expertise,” said Daniel Gold, PhD, president and CEO of MEI Pharma. “The new company’s lead program, eganelisib, has already been tested in over 350 patients with demonstrated clinical activity in multiple settings, including in combination therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Along with voruciclib and ME 344, this gives us three promising clinical-stage programs that we believe have significant potential to deliver improved therapeutic options for patients.”

The merger has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and, pending shareholder approval, is expected to close in the middle of this year.

The combined company will be based in San Diego and field an experienced team of oncology development executives including David Urso (MEI’s current COO) as CEO; Robert Ilaria, Jr., MD, as CMO and Stéphane Peluso, PhD, as CSO, the same roles both currently serve with Infinity. Current MEI and Infinity CEOs Daniel Gold, PhD, and Adelene Perkins will assume roles on the merged company’s Board of Directors.

“With this planned merger, we are creating a company that is well capitalized to advance a differentiated clinical-stage therapeutic development pipeline leveraging an experienced drug development and leadership team,” said Adelene Perkins, CEO and Chair of Infinity. “With data supporting multiple potential development paths for eganelisib, we have prioritized head and neck cancer based on our ability to leverage encouraging progression free survival data from this patient population in MARIO-1. Unfortunately, head and neck cancer remains an area of high unmet medical need with a relatively short PFS and overall survival in patients treated with checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy. Because of this, we prioritized the initiation of a randomized, controlled Phase II clinical study combining eganelisib with pembrolizumab in head and neck cancer patients which is intended to demonstrate improved clinical benefit.”

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