Following the merger, the combined company will maintain the Galecto name, as well as its current senior management team, which includes Hans Schambye as CEO. Galecto, Inc. will be incorporated in the United States, but will keep its operational headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“The merger between Galecto and PharmAkea brings together two highly complementary companies, which with our strengths in fibrosis and cancer will help us build a future global player in this space,” Schambye said in a press release.
Over the years, Galecto has developed an extensive pipeline of therapeutic candidates targeting galectins — or galactoside binding lectins — which are proteins known to be involved in many disease processes. The company has shown that galectin-3 inhibitors, in particular, can reduce fibrosis in several different organs in preclinical models.
One of Galecto’s investigational candidates is TD139, an inhaled galectin-3 modulator currently in Phase 2b development (NCT03832946) for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). In a previous Phase 1b/2a clinical trial (NCT02257177), TD139 was found to be safe and well-tolerated, and had significant effects on important biomarkers of disease activity in IPF patients.
In a series C funding round in 2018, Galecto Biotech raised a total of €79 million (approximately $90 million) to launch an international Phase 2/3 clinical trial to evaluate TD139 in people with IPF.
“Galecto has vast experience in developing galectin-3 modulators that have potential to open up new treatment options, particularly in fibrotic indications,” said Robert Williamson, CEO of PharmAkea.
“The synergy achieved by combining our complementary scientific approaches, first-in-class product candidates, supportive long-term investors and dedicated employees with extensive experience of drug development, will ensure that we address these debilitating diseases sooner,” Williamson said.
PharmAkea has developed small molecules targeting LOXL2, a key protein involved in fibrosis development. The company’s lead product is a LOXL2 inhibitor called PAT-1251, which is currently in development for the treatment of fibrotic diseases and some cancers.
A clinical trial testing the safety and tolerability of PAT-1251 (NCT02852551) was successfully completed in healthy volunteers in 2017.
“PharmAkea … has a highly validated target and an exciting next generation small molecule inhibitor that is very potent and penetrates the fibrotic tissue,” Schambye said.
“We are very much looking forward to working as a combined entity,” he said.
As a result of the merger, Carl Goldfischer from Bay City Capital will now sit on the Galecto Board of Directors.
The financial terms of the merger have not been publicly revealed.