Sellas snags Nasdaq listing in reverse merger with Galena

The deal gives Sellas Galena's Nasdaq listing.

Sellas Life Sciences has snagged itself a Nasdaq listing by merging with Galena Biopharma. The deal gives Sellas a route to public investors as it seeks to guide its Wilms tumor 1 (WT1)-targeting drug through phase 3 trials in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and mesothelioma.

New York, N.Y.-based Sellas will be the dominant partner in the combined company, about a third of which will be owned by Galena shareholders. The investors who hung on to stakes in Galena as its downward spiral turned it into a penny stock now get to roll the dice on another cancer vaccine, Sellas’ galinpepimut-S.

The candidate is set to enter phase 3 after coming through mid-phase trials in AML and mesothelioma. For Sellas, the nub of the deal is a Nasdaq listing that can help it fund its R&D ambitions. But its CEO Angelos Stergiou, M.D., Sc.D., also nodded to the assets it will acquire in the deal.  

“NeuVax strengthens our platform and may provide important value inflections as the clinical trials progress,” Stergiou said in a statement.

The transaction brings the prolonged death throes of NeuVax-developer Galena to an end, while continuing Sellas’ pivot. Sellas was once a Swiss-Greek biotech best known for striking—and quickly being booted from—an alliance with China’s Fochon Pharmaceutical. But in recent years it has repositioned itself as a global cancer vaccine player by inking a deal with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and moving its center of gravity from Europe to New York and Bermuda.       

Sellas quietly made the transition, without publicly disclosing financing rounds, with the support of Equilibria Capital, its largest shareholder. Now, it has put itself in the glare of public markets as it seeks to buck the trend in cancer vaccine trials and deliver positive phase 3 data.