Immunotherapy developer Genexine to merge with genome-editing Toolgen

2019.06.20 13:06:29 | 2019.06.20 16:04:24

Top officials from Genexine and Toolgen pose for a photo after signing their merger agreement.이미지 확대

Top officials from Genexine and Toolgen pose for a photo after signing their merger agreement.

South Korean biotech companies Genexine and Toolgen have agreed to merge their businesses to create a single entity to develop and edit gene therapy to speed up novel drug making.

Kosdaq-listed Genexine announced on Wednesday its board okayed the merger deal with Konex-listed Toolgen. Genexine will take over Toolgen in a 1:1.2 merger ratio based on Genexine’s stock price of 65,472 won ($56.06) a piece and Toolgen’s price of 78,978 won, Genexine said in a regulatory filing.

Following the planned merger, shares of Toolgen, with market capitalization of 533.7 billion won, will be delisted from Konex. Their official marriage will take effect on Aug. 31, and the shares of the new company ToolGenexine will start to be trading on the Kosdaq from Sept. 30.

Genexine shares gained 5.11 percent on Thursday to end the day at 69,900 won while Toolgen finished 0.73 lower at 81,300 won after surging to 90,900 won earlier.

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The two home-grown biotech companies, both founded in 1999, expect the combination of their frontier biotechnology would create great synergy. Kospi-listed Handok Pharm owns nearly 20 percent of Genexine.

Genexine is developing immunotherapies and gene vaccines among others. Its clinical development program in the highlight includes global studies of HyLeukin-7, a T-cell amplifier that stabilizes interleukin-7 and a cervical cancer treatment vaccine. Genexine wants to conduct new clinical trials by using Toolgen’s gene editing technology.

Toolgen is a global leader in the development of gene editing and uses its patented CRISPR/Cas9 technology to develop gene therapies to treat patients with hemophilia and macular degeneration.

The merged business will also reorganize itself by creating an R&D strategy committee that directly reports to the board to speed up the discovery and development of potential therapies.

As a short-term goal, the combined entity plans to commercialize innovative solutions by 2021 in the area of immunotherapy, gene vaccine and gene correction, according to Genexine.​

By Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim

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