AgeX Therapeutics, a biotech that has been facing financial difficulties and stalled preclinical programs for years, has finally found a way out by merging with Serina Therapeutics, a biotech that is developing a novel platform for delivering small molecules. The deal will give Serina access to AgeX’s public listing and allow it to pursue its lead candidate for Parkinson’s disease.
The merger, which is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, will give AgeX’s stockholders about 25% of the combined company, while Serina’s stockholders will own the remaining 75%. The company will retain the Serina name and trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “SER.”
The combined company will be led by a new CEO, who will be selected soon, with Serina’s CFO Steve Ledge serving as interim CEO. Most of Serina’s executive team, including Chief Science Officer Randall Moreadith, M.D., Ph.D., and Chief Operating Officer Tacey Viegas, will join the new company. AgeX’s CFO Andrea Park will keep her role temporarily before becoming chief accounting officer.
“The merger with AgeX positions Serina to advance our CNS pipeline assets and expand our platform partnering opportunities. We believe it represents the best path forward for Serina in accessing transformative capital to advance our platform technology. As a board director of the combined company, I look forward to collaborating with our new partners AgeX and Juvenescence, as we continue the work of translating our science into innovative therapeutics.”
– Milton Harris, PhD, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Serina
Serina’s main focus is on using its POZ platform, which is based on a synthetic, water soluble, low viscosity polymer, to target the delivery of small molecules. The combined company will continue to advance its lead candidate, SER-252, a version of apomorphine for Parkinson’s disease. The biotech plans to seek FDA approval to start a first-in-human trial in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Serina also has two other candidates in preclinical development. SER-227 is a version of the opioid buprenorphine for postoperative pain, and SER-228 is a cannabidiol for refractory epilepsy indications. The combined company will also expand on Serina’s existing partnerships in lipid-nanoparticle and antibody-drug conjugate technologies, although the names of the partners are not disclosed on the company’s website.
We are delighted to announce the proposed merger with Serina. The AgeX team thoroughly reviewed and evaluated numerous strategic alternatives for creating stockholder value, and we believe this transaction with Serina presented the most compelling option for our stockholders. We see exciting potential to generate novel drug candidates with the POZ Platform™ delivery technology.”
– Joanne M. Hackett, PhD, Chairperson and Interim Chief Executive Officer of AgeX
The merger has been in the works for a while, as AgeX loaned Serina $10 million in March, and the companies have been exploring the feasibility of the deal.
The combined company will also have access to $15 million in three instalments up to July 2025 as a result of post-merger warrants issued to one of AgeX’s stockholders, longevity specialist Juvenescence. The $25 million in capital is expected to provide enough cash until 2026.
AgeX has been struggling for a long time, as it repeatedly warned that its cash was running low and its survival was uncertain. The biotech has listed two cell therapies, for cardiac ischemia and age-related metabolic disorders, and a drug formulation in its preclinical pipeline. But none of these programs have progressed since at least May 2019.