Ohr Pharma and NeuBase Merge to Push NeuBase's Rare Disease Tech Platform

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Ohr Pharmaceutical is merging with NeuBase Therapeutics to create a public company working to advance NeuBase’s peptide-nucleic acid (PNA) antisense oligonucleotide (PATrOL) tech platform. 

Under the deal, NeuBase stockholders will become the majority holders of the merged company. After the merger, it will be named NeuBase Therapeutics and trade on the Nasdaq under “NBSE.” NeuBase’s executive team will run the combined company, led by Dietrich A. Stephan as chief executive officer.

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Stephan is currently a professor of human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. He has founded and co-founded at least 13 companies, including NeuBase.

Ohr shareholders will own about 20 percent of the merged company and NeuBase the remaining 80 percent. The merger has been approved by the boards of both companies. The merger is subject to Ohr shareholder approval.

NeuBase’s PATrOL tech platform is designed to treat various rare genetic diseases. The therapies that come out of the platform can potentially improve on current gene silencing treatments by combining the pluses of synthetic small molecule approaches with the precision of antisense technologies.

The company’s current focus is on severe neurological diseases like Huntington’s disease and myotonic dystrophy.

“We are excited to enter into a definitive merger agreement with NeuBase, a company with a powerful technology and pipeline that has the potential to address multiple unmet medical needs across a range of serious genetic diseases,” stated Jason Slakter, Ohr Pharmaceutical’s chief executive officer. “Following a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, Ohr’s board of directors concluded that the proposed transaction with NeuBase is in the best interest of our stockholders.”

Ohr plans to hold a special meeting of its shareholders in the first half of 2019 to vote on the deal.

Ohr Pharmaceutical focuses on developing drugs to treat serious diseases of the eye. At its third-quarter financial report on August 14, 2018, the company noted a net loss of about $0.5 million per share, total operating expenses of $1.2 million, and about $4.4 million in cash for the quarter.

In January 2018, it reported that its squalamine in combination with monthly Lucentis injections for wet age-related macular degeneration did not meet its primary efficacy endpoint.

The merged companies expect to file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for a drug for Huntington’s disease in 2020 and another one for myotonic dystrophy in 2021.

“The proposed merger with Ohr signals the next stage of growth for NeuBase,” stated Stephan. “The company’s new therapeutic modality has the potential to address a wide range of germline and somatic diseases caused by inappropriate expression and change-of-function mutations of genes. Our technology has significant potential advantages over currently available antisense and small molecule approaches to gene silencing, including high selectivity for targets, cell membrane and blood-brain barrier permeability, early data indicating no immune response and a low cost of goods.”

He went on to say, “These characteristics are essential for scalability in addressing a wide range of genetic diseases, including cancer. We are initially developing this exciting platform for RNA gene silencing in Huntington’s disease and myotonic dystrophy, with additional future, high-value RNA silencing indications.”

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