Theraclone and PharmAthene merge antibody, vaccine development ops

Seattle-based Theraclone Sciences has struck a deal to merge its antibody development efforts with PharmAthene ($PIP), a biodefense drug developer based in Annapolis, MD. And once the merger is complete, Theraclone CEO Clifford Stocks will head the expanded company as PharmAthene CEO Eric Richman takes a spot on the board.

PharmAthene's shares slid 5% on the news, trading at $1.68 by midmorning. It has a slim market cap of $83 million.

PharmAthene is bringing a pair of clinical-stage anthrax vaccines to the table, including SparVax, now in midstage testing. Just a few weeks ago the FDA lifted a clinical hold on SparVax, which had figured in a nasty legal brawl with Emergent BioSolutions over a $78 million contract. The FDA had sought more stability data on the vaccine when it called for the hold.

Theraclone, a 2011 Fierce 15 company, has a pair of antibodies in development for CMV and influenza, a field in which PharmAthene's government contracting experience will help. Investors in each company will be given half of the combined company's shares.

Just a few months ago Theraclone added $8 million in venture cash from Arch Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, MPM Capital, Healthcare Ventures, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Versant Ventures, and Zenyaku Kogyo, while MidCap Financial and Silicon Valley Bank added a credit facility of $6 million.

"A merger with Theraclone will significantly advance PharmAthene's goal of achieving broader portfolio diversification," said Richman in a statement. "As a company with multiple clinical, pre-clinical and discovery candidates targeting important indications, the combined company will have the potential to generate substantial value for stockholders through both corporate collaborations and the development of its own proprietary therapeutic mAbs targeting high-value commercial markets."

- here's the press release

Special Report: Theraclone Sciences - 2011 Fierce 15