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X4 Completes Reverse Merger with Arsanis, Looks Ahead to Phase 3 Test

Xconomy Boston — 

X4 Pharmaceuticals is the latest biotech to join the public markets, but it didn’t follow the IPO path to get there.

Cambridge, MA-based X4 said Wednesday that it completed its “reverse merger” with Arsanis (NASDAQ: ASNS). Such business combinations enable a privately held company to go public by merging with a publicly traded business. Shares of the new X4 are set to begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange Thursday under the stock symbol “XFOR.”

X4 is developing drugs that target the CXCR4 pathway, which plays a role in the way that the immune system patrols the body to seek out and destroy pathogens. The biotech was started in 2012 by executives with ties to Genzyme. Its CEO, Paula Ragan, is also a Genzyme veteran.

X4 is preparing its lead drug, X4P-001, for Phase 3 testing in WHIM syndrome, a rare immunodeficiency that makes patients susceptible to various infections. There are no FDA-approved drugs for the disease; treatment is typically directed to a patient’s symptoms, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

Arsanis was developing antibody drugs to treat infectious diseases. But last June, the company halted work on its lead candidate, an experimental pneumonia treatment, after an interim analysis found the drug was unlikely to meet the Phase 2 study’s main goal. Shares of Arsanis plummeted more than 70 percent following the announcement. Last November, X4 and Arsanis announced their merger agreement.

The combined company will be led by X4’s management team. Its board of directors will have six directors, four from X4’s former board and two from Arsanis.

Photo by Flickr user Brian Ruijter via a Creative Commons license