Ventrus Biosciences is merging with Assembly Pharmaceuticals in an all-stock transaction. Ventrus' stockholders today approved the issuance of common stock in connection with the merger, as well as a one-for-five reverse stock split and a name change: Ventrus will now be known as Assembly Biosciences.
Assembly Biosciences will focus on developing Assembly Pharmaceuticals' Core Protein Allosteric Modulators (CpAMs), small molecules designed to treat and potentially even cure hepatitis B infection (HBV). Prior to this merger, Ventrus' primary focus was on developing new gastrointestinal products, including infections of the gastrointestinal system, and the company says it still plans to develop novel microbiome-based approaches to treat intractable GI infections in addition to the CpAMs.
In a proxy statement made to shareholders, Russell H. Ellison, M.D., Ventrus' (and now Assembly Biosciences') chairman and CEO said the shift in focus would be a good opportunity for the firm as the low cure rate from current HBV treatments is an unmet need.
"We believe that the strong support of our shareholders for this merger reflects the potential of the novel antiviral technology that is the scientific foundation of our new company," Dr. Ellison said in a separate statement regarding the merger. "The combined companies bring a wealth of talent and experience to the development and commercialization of our potentially curative approach to hepatitis B, an underserved disease that afflicts hundreds of millions of people worldwide."