Solid Biosciences acquires AavantiBio, conducts $75 million private placement

by Stephen Riddle

The life sciences company Solid Biosciences is merging with the privately-held gene therapy company AavantiBio in a deal which is expected to result in a combined sum of $215 million in cash and investments – projected to be enough for funding into 2025.

AavantiBio, a precision genetic medicine company that was bankrolled by Solid’s rival Sarepta back in 2020, focuses on neuromuscular and cardiac rare diseases. Its key assets include product candidates for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), Friedreich’s ataxia, and BAG3 mediated dilated cardiomyopathy, among others.

Once combined, the next step is to advance a portfolio of neuromuscular and cardiac programs for those diseases with indications Solid Biosciences believes have a high unmet need. This will be led by Solid’s differentiated, adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene transfer therapy candidate, SGT-003, for treatment of DMD. Additional pipeline programs will include AavantiBio’s AVB-002, a gene transfer candidate for treating Friedrich’s ataxia (FA), and AVB-401 for BAG3 mediated dilated cardiomyopathy.

Once approval comes from stockholders of Solid Biosciences – an approval which is expected in this fourth quarter of 2022 – the combined company will operate under Solid’s singular title and trade on Nasdaq under ticker symbol ‘SLDB’. AavantiBio’s current CEO Bo Cumbo, a seasoned biotech executive, will be assuming the role of president and CEO of the combined Solid Biosciences.

Current president, CEO, and co-founder of Solid Biosciences, Ilan Ganot, said: “This acquisition provides exciting opportunities to bring our potentially best-in-class Duchenne gene transfer candidate, SGT-003, to patients and to expand our portfolio with innovative gene therapies designed to address significant unmet need in additional, adjacent rare disease indications.”

SGT-003 utilises a novel muscle-tropic AAV capsid (AAV-SLB101) for delivery of Solid’s proprietary and differentiated neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) microdystrophin protein. In the meantime, the company’s first-generation gene transfer therapy candidate, SGT-001, will be paused, but ongoing preclinical and manufacturing activities for SGT-001 will continue so that the program can be reactivated in future, if desired.

Bo Cumbo said: “[Solid Biosciences’] commitment to the Duchenne community aligns with AavantiBio’s patient-centric mission of bringing new therapies that can positively improve the quality of life of rare disease patients and their families.”

In support of the acquisition is an additional $75 million private placement securities purchase agreement, with a select group of investors both institutional and accredited. This is due to close concurrently with the merger.

Led by existing investors Perceptive Advisors LLC, RA Capital Management, and Bain Capital Life Sciences, also included in the private placement are CaaS Capital Management, Invus, Laurion Capital Management, and Pura Vida Investments.

Image sourced from Clinical Care Options.

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