Organovo Holdings and Tarveda Therapeutics announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Tarveda would merge with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Organovo in an all-stock transaction.

Upon completion of the merger, the merged company would operate under the name Tarveda Therapeutics, Inc. and trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC under the ticker symbol “TVDA.”

Tarveda is primarily focused on the development of its pipeline of Pentarin miniature drug conjugates designed to selectively accumulate and retain anti-cancer payloads in solid tumor malignancies. Following the closing of the merger, Tarveda intends to continue to focus on advancing its two clinical stage oncology programs, PEN-866 and PEN-221, and on further development of novel conjugates from its proprietary miniature drug conjugate platform. At the closing of the merger, it is estimated that the combined company will have approximately $35 million of cash on hand that is expected to provide sufficient funding into the second half of 2021 to achieve key upcoming clinical data milestones on both clinical programs.

“After completing an extensive and thorough review of strategic alternatives, we are extremely pleased to announce this transaction with Tarveda, which we believe is in the best interest for our stockholders,” said Taylor J. Crouch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Organovo. “Tarveda is advancing an innovative pipeline of clinical stage cancer therapies derived from the company’s proprietary miniature drug conjugate platform. Tarveda is supported by a strong syndicate of investors including Novo A/S, Versant Ventures and ND Capital (NanoDimension) and a highly seasoned management team with prior public company experience.”

“Our growing portfolio of miniature drug conjugates has the potential to represent much needed new treatment options for patients with solid tumor malignancies,” said Drew Fromkin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tarveda. “We are encouraged by the activity and tolerability demonstrated in Phase 1 human studies of our two clinical programs, PEN-866 and PEN-221. Our Pentarin miniature drug conjugates are designed to incorporate the best properties of small molecule drugs and antibody drug conjugates to form miniature drug conjugates that are effective at rapidly and deeply penetrating solid tumors while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. We are excited about this merger with Organovo and believe that this is the right point in Tarveda’s trajectory to move forward as a publicly traded company given several upcoming clinical data milestones that we expect to be achieved in 2020 and 2021.”

Tarveda expects the merger to provide the capital required to advance its two lead programs through the next set of clinical milestones and to generate novel conjugates from its Heat Shock Protein 90 (HSP90) binding miniature drug conjugate platform. PEN-866, the initial clinical program from Tarveda’s HSP90 binding miniature drug conjugate platform, is designed to bind to the activated form of HSP90 in solid tumors to accumulate and retain its potent topoisomerase 1 inhibitor (SN-38) payload. PEN-866 is completing the Phase 1 dose escalation and safety portion of its “all comers” trial in various types of solid tumors and has shown to be well tolerated and demonstrated early clinical activity in heavily treated, advanced patients with a range of solid tumor malignancies. Beginning in early 2020, it is expected that PEN-866 will be evaluated in a Phase 2a study both as a single agent and as a combination therapy across a range of solid tumors that are sensitive to topoisomerase 1 inhibitors. PEN-221 is a miniature drug conjugate in clinical evaluation for the treatment of patients with solid tumors expressing somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) on the cell surface and is linked to the potent tubulin inhibitor payload, DM1. In a Phase 1 study, PEN-221 was well tolerated and demonstrated early clinical activity. PEN-221 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2a study for the treatment of patients with neuroendocrine tumors and small cell lung cancer.

Under the terms of the merger, it is anticipated that Tarveda stockholders will own approximately 75% of the combined company and current Organovo stockholders will own approximately 25% of the combined company on a fully-diluted basis. The exchange ratio is based on valuation assumptions for both companies subject to potential adjustments for certain financial metrics prior to the completion of the merger.

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