Sellas Life Sciences is considering a number of “strategic options” to make sure it can fund its current plan of developing its leading oncology assets, a pair of cancer vaccines. The board is conducting a review of “strategic options focusing on maximizing shareholder value,” options that include selling off the company
Its other choices include a “business combination,” or merger. A new financing or a funded partnership could give Sellas the cash injection it needs to carry its pipeline forward. And the company, which backed onto the Nasdaq in August 2017 through its merger with Galena Biopharma, is considering another reverse merger too.
All of that said, the company gave no timeline for it to make its decision and cautioned in a statement that it may not even pursue any of the options up for consideration.
“We are committed to identifying a strategic plan which will enhance shareholder value while allowing for the acceleration of our development programs, so that our novel immunotherapeutics, GPS [galinpepimut-S] and NPS [nelipepimut-S], may benefit cancer patients,” said Sellas CEO Angelos Stergiou, M.D., Sc.D., in the statement.
Sellas recently kicked off a phase 1/2 combination trial of GPS with Merck’s Keytruda, the company said. It is testing the combo in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as well as those with ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, small-cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer. It’s also planning a phase 3 study pitting GPS as a single agent against the investigator’s choice of best maintenance therapy in AML patients after they’ve had success with second-line antileukemic therapy.
NPS, also called NeuVax, is in development for triple-negative breast cancer. Sellas is working with the FDA on a trial design for a phase 3 registrational study in that indication.
Sellas picked up NeuVax in its merger with Galena, which, at the time, was floundering. In April of that year, Galena was among 27 companies and individuals charged by the SEC over allegations of fraudulent promotion of stocks. In addition to some executive musical chairs, Galena had also run into some clinical setbacks, including the halt of a phase 3 test of NeuVax in breast cancer due to futility. In July 2017, Galena was weighing its own “strategic alternatives,” including licensing out or selling its assets, selling the company itself, or merging with another company.