MORRISVILLE – Tenax Therameputics is acquiring an Illinois-based biotech firm with a promising hypertension treatment and named that company’s cofounder as its chief medical officer.

Tenax (Nasdaq: TENX) shares soared 38% to $2.45 shortly after the announced deal for PH Precision Med (PHPM) and the appointment of Stuart Rich, MD, as its CMO early Tuesday.

Tenax is paying some 12 million shares of stock to PHPM shareholders.

PHPM is focused on a potential treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, and its lead candidate has received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA. The drug – a “Pase 3 [clinical trial] candidate” – has the “potential to be the first disease modifying treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension,” Tenax explained.

The Tenax mission is “identifying, developing, and commercializing products that address cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases with high unmet medical need.”

“The acquisition of PHPM immediately expands Tenax’s pipeline to include a second de-risked Phase 3 ready candidate with the potential to be the first disease modifying treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension,” said Anthony DiTonno, CEO of Tenax. “The previous clinical trial designs led to high dropout rates and raised questions related to safety and tolerability, which limited further development of imatinib in PAH. We believe that PHPM’s innovative clinical development plan, which includes a novel formulation that mitigates the side effects without diminishing the bioavailability, has the potential to yield positive clinical outcomes in a single pivotal Phase 3 trial requisite for regulatory approval.”

Rich currently is Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Director of the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. He also previously served as FDA Cardio-Renal Advisory Committee Member, according to Tenax.

“Dr. Rich is a pioneer in the field of pulmonary hypertension and its treatments,” DiTonno said in a statement. “In addition, his many years of experience as an FDA advisory committee member provides Tenax with extraordinary knowledge of pulmonary hypertension disease mechanisms and modern regulatory strategies. I am confident this strengthened team is well positioned to maximize the clinical potential of imatinib and advance the clinical development of levosimendan for PH-HFpEF, which together have the potential to address significant unmet needs and large market opportunities.”

Rich also is expected to be named to the Tenax board along with fellow PHP, counders Declan Doogan and Michael Davidson.

“This acquisition by Tenax, a clinical-stage publicly traded company with a pulmonary hypertension focus, is testament to the PHPM team’s success in developing our novel and highly innovative clinical development plan … I look forward to joining the Tenax team to unlock the clinical potential of imatinib for patients with severe PAH,” Rich said in the announcement.

In connection with his appointment, on January 15, 2021, Dr. Rich was awarded an option to purchase 250,000 shares of the Company’s common stock. This award was made in accordance with the employment inducement award exemption provided by Nasdaq Rule 5635(c)(4) and was therefore not awarded under the Company’s stockholder approved equity plan. The option award will vest as follows: 25% upon initiation of a Phase 3 trial; 25% upon database lock; 25% upon acceptance for review of an NDA; and 25% upon approval. The options have a 10-year term and an exercise price of $1.78 per share, the January 15, 2021 closing price of the Company’s common stock.