Kintara Therapeutics has signed a definitive agreement to execute an all-stock merger with TuHURA Biosciences to form a company for developing late-stage oncology assets.

The merged entity, set to operate as TuHURA Biosciences, will progress the development of an oncology pipeline including tailored cancer vaccines and bi-functional antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

TuHURA is developing technologies to tackle primary and acquired resistance, significant barriers to immunotherapy’s ability to treat and potentially cure cancer.

Its lead programme, IFx-2.0, is set to enter a Phase III clinical trial as an adjunct treatment along with Keytruda to enhance tumour response rates in advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma patients.

The single, placebo-controlled registration-directed trial will be conducted under the Food and Drug Administration’s accelerated approval pathway, with enrolment expected to commence in the second half of 2024.

TuHURA is developing bi-functional ADCs targeting myeloid-derived suppressor cells with its Delta receptor technology.

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The boards of directors of Kintara and TuHURA have approved the merger deal.

The transaction will conclude in the third quarter of 2024.

Post-merger, TuHURA will be headquartered in Tampa, Florida, US.

A subscribed financing of $31m secured in connection with this transaction is expected to extend the company’s cash runway through late 2025.

TuHURA CEO and president Dr James Bianco stated: “With IFx-2.0 readying to enter a single Phase III registration trial, we believe this is the optimal time for TuHURA to transition from a private company to a public company.

“This transaction with Kintara serves as a significant next step in our continued commitment to patients to develop novel therapies to overcome the major obstacles that limit the effectiveness of immunotherapies to treat and cure cancer.”