Organovo and Tarveda Therapeutics, a privately-held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a new class of potent and selective precision oncology medicines (Pentarin miniature drug conjugates) have entered into a definitive merger agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Tarveda merges with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Organovo in an all-stock transaction. Upon completion of the merger, the merged company would operate under the name Tarveda Therapeutics, Inc. and trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC under the ticker symbol “TVDA.”
Tarveda is primarily focused on the development of its pipeline of Pentarin miniature drug conjugates designed to selectively accumulate and retain anti-cancer payloads in solid tumor malignancies. Following the closing of the merger, Tarveda intends to continue to focus on advancing its two clinical-stage oncology programs, PEN-866 and PEN-221, and on further development of novel conjugates from its proprietary miniature drug conjugate platform.
No mention has been made of Organovo’s ongoing bioprinting business and research activities which, at this point, are expected to be discontinued. At the closing of the merger, it is estimated that the combined company will have approximately $35 million of cash on hand that is expected to provide sufficient funding into the second half of 2021 to achieve key upcoming clinical data milestones on both clinical programs.
It may seem like a paradox for Organovo to exit the bioprinting business just as this segment is starting to enjoy strong growth and a very vibrant increase in research activities, at all levels, worldwide. Organovo was a pioneer of bioprinting however the company’s business model to provide tissue for drug development testing failed to attract a sufficient number of customers among Big Pharma companies.
“After completing an extensive and thorough review of strategic alternatives, we are extremely pleased to announce this transaction with Tarveda, which we believe is in the best interest for our stockholders,” said Taylor J. Crouch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Organovo. “Tarveda is advancing an innovative pipeline of clinical-stage cancer therapies derived from the company’s proprietary miniature drug conjugate platform. Tarveda is supported by a strong syndicate of investors including Novo A/S, Versant Ventures and ND Capital (NanoDimension) and a highly seasoned management team with prior public company experience.”
Under the terms of the merger, it is anticipated that Tarveda stockholders will own approximately 75% of the combined company and current Organovo stockholders will own approximately 25% of the combined company on a fully-diluted basis. The exchange ratio is based on valuation assumptions for both companies subject to potential adjustments for certain financial metrics prior to the completion of the merger. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies. The merger is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to the approval of Organovo and Tarveda stockholders as well as other customary closing conditions.
“Our growing portfolio of miniature drug conjugates has the potential to represent much needed new treatment options for patients with solid tumor malignancies,” said Drew Fromkin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tarveda. “We are encouraged by the activity and tolerability demonstrated in Phase 1 human studies of our two clinical programs, PEN-866 and PEN-221. Our Pentarin miniature drug conjugates are designed to incorporate the best properties of small molecule drugs and antibody drug conjugates to form miniature drug conjugates that are effective at rapidly and deeply penetrating solid tumors while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. We are excited about this merger with Organovo and believe that this is the right point in Tarveda’s trajectory to move forward as a publicly traded company given several upcoming clinical data milestones that we expect to be achieved in 2020 and 2021.”
Following the merger, the combined company will be led by the current Tarveda management team, including Drew Fromkin as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman; Jeffrey D. Bloss, M.D., Chief Medical Officer; Brian Roberts, Chief Financial Officer; Mark Bilodeau, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer; and Sudhakar Kadiyala Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Strategy. The Board of Directors of the combined company will be comprised of eight directors, including six directors to be named by Tarveda and two directors to be named by Organovo. The corporate headquarters will be located in Watertown, MA.