Gemphire Therapeutics Inc. and Boston-based NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals Inc. have agreed to a deal that will result in Gemphire changing its name to NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals. The merged company will focus on the development of NeuroBo’s clinical-stage drug candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

NeuroBo is focused on the development of a treatment for diabetic neuropathic pain with its lead drug candidate, NB-01, in Phase 3 clinical development as a first-line, disease-modifying therapy. NeuroBo’s second drug candidate, NB-02, is in development for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases associated with the pathological dysfunction of the amyloid-beta and tau proteins in the human brain, which include Alzheimer’s disease and tauopathies.

“We are excited about the opportunities and resources that will become available to NeuroBo and its therapeutic pipeline as a result of the merger,” NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals CEO John L. Brooks III said in a statement. “As we move towards developing both NB-01 and NB-02, we believe that having shares publicly traded on Nasdaq will provide greater opportunity to advance our therapeutic pipeline and corporate strategy.”

Following the merger, Brooks will be appointed to serve as the post-merger combined company’s president and CEO.

Gemphire also announced an out-licensing partnership with Beijing SL Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to advance its drug candidate, gemcabene, into the Chinese market. This partnership is expected to provide an upfront gross payment of $2.5 million to Gemphire and back end milestone and royalty payments to the combined company if certain development and commercialization milestones are met.

“NeuroBo represents an ideal merger partner for us,” Gemphire CEO Dr. Steve Gullans said in a statement. “NeuroBo has a compelling Phase 3 program with NB-01 in diabetic neuropathic pain and a strong team to advance its pipeline. We evaluated numerous potential merger partners and recognized that NeuroBo has a solid base of investors and the potential to deliver significant value based on its pipeline assets. The NeuroBo merger complements our partnership with Beijing SL Pharmaceutical Co., and together, these relationships will enable us to continue to advance gemcabene toward a Food and Drug Administration partial clinical hold decision and potentially lead to a beneficial outcome for Gemphire shareholders who will hold contingent value rights.”

Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc. is acting as financial adviser to Gemphire for the transaction and Consilium Partners Inc. is acting as financial adviser to NeuroBo for the transaction. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. is serving as legal counsel to NeuroBo. Honigman LLP is serving as legal counsel to Gemphire.