US-based immunotherapies company TapImmune has signed a definitive merger agreement to buy multi-antigen T-cell therapy platform developer Marker Therapeutics.

The deal is set to create a transformational immuno-oncology platform and will add Marker’s complementary targeted cell therapy platform to TapImmune’s peptide vaccine portfolio.

Following the completion of the merger, which is subject to certain conditions and approvals, the combined entity will be equally owned by the two companies.

TapImmune President and CEO Peter Hoang said: “The merger adds to our product pipeline a synergistic portfolio of highly differentiated T-cell therapies that has demonstrated potentially groundbreaking results in early clinical trials in lymphoma, acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and multiple myeloma.

“With this merger, I believe we have the opportunity to significantly disrupt the CAR T and TCR field.”

“We believe the merger will accelerate clinical development, particularly for the cell therapy platform, which has generated encouraging patient responses.”

Marker’s candidates in early clinical trials are expected to provide durable responses and less toxicity than existing gene-modified T-cell therapies to help patients who are not eligible for CAR T therapies.

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Marker Therapeutics CEO John Wilson said: “Our respective development teams are eager to join forces and drive a unique product pipeline to patients in need.

“We believe the merger will accelerate clinical development, particularly for the cell therapy platform, which has generated encouraging patient responses in our clinical trials to date.”

In conjunction with the merger, TapImmune is planning to finalise a strategic collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine for research funding, manufacturing support and early stage clinical trials.

The company also entered stockholder and warrant agreements to obtain approximately $5.1m in equity financing. Wilson has committed to contribute another $1m.

TapImmune is also working towards securing financing to fund the combined company into 2020.

The merger is expected to be completed in the second half of this year.