Allozyne goes public via merger with Poniard

San Francisco's Poniard Pharmaceuticals and Seattle-based Allozyne are both getting what they want out of a merger deal announced yesterday. Allozyne, which is developing protein therapeutics for multiple sclerosis, is purchasing the NASDAQ-listed Poniard, with Allozyne shareholders gaining 65 percent of the combined company's stock. That gives the Seattle developer access to the public markets without the hassle of a tricky IPO. Allozyne CEO Meenu Chhabra will head up the combined company.

Poniard has been cutting staff and evaluating its options since 2009, when its cancer drug picoplatin flunked a Phase III trial. The developer has been operating on autopilot ever since. The combined company will focus its resources on advancing pipeline and platform technology. The companies will seek a partner to continue development of picoplatin.

"We believe that Allozyne's proprietary platform may enable us to enhance virtually any biologic therapeutic, including therapeutic proteins and antibodies," noted Chhabra in a release. "Our lead product, AZ01, a clinical-stage, PEGylated interferon β for multiple sclerosis, could replace existing weekly or twice-weekly interferon treatment with monthly dosing and has the potential to address a significant unmet need in this multi-billion dollar market. By merging with Poniard, we believe we can access the public capital markets to accelerate our strategic plan." The company's priority will be to advance AZ01 into a Phase II study.

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