A solid strategy: Aavanti & Solid Bio merge to create DMD-focused company
Published: Sep 30, 2022
By Paul Elias
Two struggling Boston-based gene therapy companies – Solid Biosciences and AavantiBio – announced Friday they are merging to develop a portfolio of neuromuscular and cardiac programs, initially focusing on a lead candidate to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The new company will retain the Solid name and trade publicly on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the SLDB ticker symbol. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
AavantiBio president and CEO Bo Cumbo will assume the same titles at the newly formed Solid Biosciences. Solid CEO and co-founder Ilan Ganot is stepping down but will remain on the board of directors of the new company.
The newly merged company will also receive an investment booster of $75 million, led by Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management and Bain Capital Life Sciences. Those three investors also helped launched Aavanti in 2020, leading the $107 million combined investment.
Other investors in the private placement include CaaS Capital Management, Invus, Laurion Capital Management and Pura Vida Investments.
The new Solid says it now has $215 million in cash, enough to fund operations into 2025, by which time executives expect key data readouts.
Beyond the financial shot-in-the-arm, Solid will also scrap development of its troubled lead drug candidate SGT-001 for DMD. The move comes five months after the company announced it was laying off 35 percent of its workers and ramping up commercial-scale production of the molecule.
Solid had been testing SGT-001 in Phase I//II clinical trials since dosing its first patient in 2018, but the drug candidate encountered two FDA holds along the way. The last one occurred in 2019 after a serious adverse event with a patient. The FDA previously placed a partial hold in 2018, demanding more data before the clinical trial could resume.
The new Solid will now pursue gene-therapy candidate SGT-003 for DMD.
Ganot left his job as a London-based Wall Street banker in 2012 to launch Solid after his son was diagnosed with Duchenne. He and his wife Annie raised $17 million to launch Solid.
“I created Solid with my wife, Annie, and our co-founders nearly ten years ago, to bring meaningful treatment options to patients and families who, like ours, live with the devastating consequences of Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” Ganot said in a statement. “I look forward to helping Bo with the leadership transition following the acquisition, and I am grateful to the investors who continue to support Solid’s critical efforts.”