Aviragen Therapeutics and Vaxart Enter into Merger Agreement


ATLANTA and SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Oct. 30, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aviragen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVIR), a company focused on the discovery and development of direct-acting antivirals to treat infections that have limited therapeutic options, and Vaxart, Inc., a privately-held, clinical-stage company focused on developing oral recombinant vaccines based on its proprietary delivery platform that allows for administration by tablet rather than by injection, announced today that the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement. The merger will result in a combined company, Vaxart, Inc., focused on developing orally-delivered therapeutics and prophylactics to address a variety of viral infections.

“We are thrilled with the prospect of combining forces with Aviragen, which will create a deep pipeline of antiviral products and allow Vaxart to accelerate development of the promising vaccine candidates that are based on our proprietary oral delivery platform,” said Wouter Latour, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vaxart. “This transaction gives us the opportunity to build on the positive Phase 2 challenge study results we announced recently for our influenza oral tablet vaccine, as well as the excellent results we obtained in the safety and immunogenicity studies with our norovirus vaccine. Additionally, it will provide us access to Aviragen’s antiviral assets, including their BTA074 Phase 2 program for the treatment of condyloma caused by HPV, which is on track to complete enrollment this quarter and to report top-line safety and efficacy data in the second quarter of 2018.”

“We believe our oral vaccine programs are significantly de-risked based on the positive clinical outcome of the BARDA-funded H1N1 influenza Phase 2 challenge study which serves as proof of concept for our technology platform as a whole,” continued Latour, “and we look forward to taking our norovirus vaccine into a Phase 2 challenge study next. Norovirus is the leading cause of acute viral gastroenteritis in the United States, causing frequent outbreaks across the population, and we believe our oral tablet vaccine would be the optimal approach to address this unmet medical need.”

The Vaxart technology platform has been engineered for the delivery of a wide range of oral vaccines, initially targeting norovirus, human papilloma virus (HPV), respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza, using a convenient and room temperature-stable tablet, which eliminates the need for injection. In clinical studies to date, Vaxart vaccines consistently generated broad systemic and local immune responses that could provide important advantages in preventing infection, as well as robust T cell responses that we believe are essential to obtain a therapeutic benefit in chronic viral infection and cancer.

“After a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, we are delighted to announce this transaction with Vaxart, which will complement Aviragen’s focus on infectious diseases and position us to create both near and long-term value for our stockholders,” said Joseph M. Patti, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Aviragen Therapeutics. “Vaxart is well-funded to advance its norovirus and HPV antiviral vaccine programs, and together with BTA074, the combined companies are poised to provide meaningful value-creating data readouts.”

Today, Vaxart will be announcing positive results from the company’s Phase 1b open-label, dose-ranging study assessing the safety and immunogenicity of VXA-G1.1-NN, Vaxart’s norovirus oral tablet vaccine, in 60 healthy adult volunteers. VXA-G1.1-NN met both the primary and secondary endpoints for safety and immunogenicity in the clinical trial. Based on the favorable clinical data, a Phase 2 norovirus challenge study is expected to begin in the second half of 2018. To date, Vaxart has dosed more than 300 adult volunteers with its vaccines for norovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and influenza.

About the Transaction

The exchange ratio in the merger agreement was determined by assigning $60 million in value to Aviragen for its financial and clinical assets and $90 million in value for Vaxart’s assets. On a pro forma basis, after giving effect to the number of shares of Aviragen common stock issued in the merger, Vaxart’s securityholders will own approximately 60% of the combined company and Aviragen securityholders will own approximately 40% of the combined company, subject to certain potential adjustments as described in the merger agreement. The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies. The merger is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to the approval of the stockholders of each company as well as other customary conditions. Wouter Latour, M.D., will serve as Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Upon the closing of the transaction, the name of the combined company will become Vaxart, Inc. and shares of the combined are expected to continue trading on NASDAQ under the proposed ticker symbol “VXRT.”

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated is acting as financial advisor to Aviragen, and Dechert LLP is serving as legal counsel to Aviragen. Cooley LLP is serving as legal counsel to Vaxart.

Aviragen will reduce its workforce by six to a total of 10 full-time employees, who will remain on board to complete the BTA074 Phase 2 clinical trial and assist with the transition of duties to the Vaxart management team.

Aviragen and Vaxart management will host a conference call this morning, Monday, October 30, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. EDT to discuss the planned merger. To participate in the conference call, please dial (877) 312-5422 (United States) or (253) 237-1122 (international) and refer to conference ID number 6295889. A replay of the conference call can be accessed under the Investors section of Aviragen's website at www.aviragentherapeutics.com and on the Vaxart website at www.vaxart.com.

About Aviragen Therapeutics

Aviragen Therapeutics is focused on the discovery and development of the next generation of direct-acting antivirals to treat infections that have limited therapeutic options and affect a significant number of patients globally. It has three Phase 2 clinical stage compounds: BTA074 (teslexivir), an antiviral treatment for condyloma caused by human papillomavirus types 6 and 11; vapendavir, a capsid inhibitor for the prevention or treatment of rhinovirus (RV) upper respiratory infections; and BTA585 (enzaplatovir), a fusion protein inhibitor in development for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus infections. Aviragen also receives royalties from marketed influenza products, Relenza® and Inavir®. For additional information, please visit www.aviragentherapeutics.com.

Aviragen Therapeutics® is a registered trademark. Relenza® is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., and Inavir® is a registered trademark of Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd.

About Vaxart

Vaxart is a clinical-stage company developing a range of oral recombinant vaccines based on its proprietary delivery platform. Vaxart vaccines are administered using convenient room temperature-stable tablets that can be stored and shipped without refrigeration and eliminate risk of needle-stick injury. Its development programs are oral tablet vaccines designed to protect against norovirus, seasonal influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as a therapeutic vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), Vaxart’s first immuno-oncology indication. For more information, please visit www.vaxart.com.

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