Aquinox merges with cancer-specialist startup Neoleukin

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Canadian blood-cancer treatment specialist Aquinox Pharmaceuticals has just closed a deal to buy out the Seattle, US-based startup Neoleukin Therapeutics, in a plan to merge its business with the company’s currently in-development revolutionary cancer treatment.

Neoleukin, being established just very recently last January of this year, had unveiled its technological breakthrough in the field of cancer research. It is currently attempting to commercialize a synthetic version of Interleukin-2 (IL-2), a protein that is capable of efficiently fighting cancer cells, but at the cost of the patient’s overall health. Normally a treatment involving the natural version of IL-2 is known to only have about a 50% chance of complete recovery.

Neoleukin’s synthetic version the NL-201, on the other hand, allows the immune system’s T-cells to independently attack malignant tumors in relative safety without significant adverse effects to the patient. The synthetic IL-2’s safety breakthrough revolves around its interaction with the T-cells, which are reported to be able to bind to the cells’ two receptors, but will not on its third.

Academically, Neoleukin has been formerly associated with the local University of Washington (UW). In fact, the company is one of the members and beneficiaries of the university’s Co-Motion program, which is generally described as a “collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the economic and societal impact of the UW community”.

Aquinox, on the other hand, is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company founded in 2003 that specializes in developing treatments for serious recurring or chronic inflammatory conditions, which are often detrimental to the patient if not dealt with using specific treatments regularly.

The deal between the two companies has several interconnecting benefits for each of the two business entities’ objectives. However, Aquinox would seem to stand upon the deal’s financial gains, given that it had just suffered from a failed late-stage trial for a new treatment drug last 2018.

In fact, the combined companies, after the deal is completely settled, would be owned by Aquinox at 61% of its total shares.

As of today, the deal between the two companies is not completely closed just yet. Due to this, we cannot determine at the moment the actual price for the buy-out deal.

However, being that Neoleukin is currently valued at $40 million, it is possible to see something along the lines of at least double its stock market value at its post-merger status.

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