Healthcare Industry News: oncolytic virus
News Release - September 9, 2008
Jennerex Completes $8.3 Million Series B Financing and Appoints Dr. Cal Stiller as DirectorClinical Trial Programs Funded Through 2009
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 9 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Jennerex, Inc. (San Francisco, CA and Ottawa, Ontario), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a proprietary breakthrough class of targeted oncolytic virus therapeutics, today announced the closing of a financing transaction with gross proceeds of $8.3 million USD, exceeding the target of $8 million USD. The offering was completed without the services of an agent.
The net proceeds of the private placement will be used to advance the Company's clinical development programs, including lead product JX-594, which is currently being evaluated in a randomized Phase II clinical trial for liver cancer. This is one of three clinical trials currently under way, which also include a Phase II trial for colon cancer and a Phase I trial targeting lung cancer and other solid tumors. Proceeds from the financing will also be used for research and development, general corporate purposes and to augment working capital.
"We are extremely pleased by the enthusiastic support of existing shareholders, and we welcome several new shareholders to the Company," said David H. Kirn, M.D., President and CEO of Jennerex. "This funding is expected to cover operations for the next 18 months, through the end of 2009, and specifically to fund the company through significant value inflection points, including completion of the above-mentioned clinical trials," said Dr. Kirn.
Jennerex also announces the appointment of Calvin Stiller, CM, O. ONT, MD, F.R.C.P. © to the Company's Board of Directors. Dr. Stiller is Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Stilco Corporation and BioQuest Innovations Inc. Dr. Stiller has also served as a director of NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc. since December 1999; and had served on the board of Allelix since April 1999 until its acquisition by NPS. From 1996 to 2005, Dr. Stiller served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, a biotech venture capital fund. Dr. Stiller has authored more than 265 medical and scientific papers and has received a significant number of awards throughout his career for his medical contributions and entrepreneurship. Additionally, he has co-founded many organizations and programs including the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
In welcoming Dr. Stiller to Jennerex' board, Chairman Brennan Mulcahy commented that, "Dr. Stiller brings a wealth of medical and biotech experience to Jennerex, as well as extensive experience with emerging biotech companies. As Jennerex develops its corporate structure to support its clinical trials program, Dr. Stiller's counsel will be invaluable in guiding the board and management through a critical period in the company's development."
"I am excited to join the board of Jennerex at this exciting stage of its development," said Dr. Stiller. "The JX-594 lead product, as well as other offerings in this product class, have great potential to change cancer care and to develop significant market penetration for these novel therapeutics. I am very impressed with the Jennerex team which has made huge progress to date in a relatively short time, and with great efficiency in use of capital," added Dr. Stiller.
JX-594 is a cancer biotherapeutic, currently in Phase II trials, from a proprietary breakthrough class of targeted and armed oncolytic poxviruses. Tumor destruction and safety was shown in patients with diverse cancer types in three Phase I trials; treated patients were end-stage and had no effective therapies available. JX-594 multiplies selectively within cancer cells, leading to their destruction. These newly created copies of JX-594 are then released and are able to infect and eradicate other tumor cells both locally and in distant sites in the body. This cycle of JX-594 replication, cancer cell destruction, release and spread is then repeated. Normal cells are not affected by JX-594 resulting in safety and tolerability. The poxvirus strain backbone of JX-594 has been used safely in millions of people as part of a worldwide vaccination program. This strain naturally targets cancer cells due to common genetic defects in cancer cells. JX-594 was engineered to enhance this natural safety and cancer-selectivity by deleting its thymidine kinase (TK) gene, thus making it dependent on the cellular TK expressed at persistently high levels in cancer cells. To enhance product efficacy, JX-594 is also engineered to express the GM-CSF protein. GM-CSF complements the cancer cell lysis work of the product candidate, leading to a cascade of events resulting in tumor necrosis, tumor vasculature shutdown and an anti- tumoral immune attack.
Jennerex is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class, breakthrough targeted oncolytic products for cancer. The Company's lead product JX-594, currently in an international Phase II trial for primary liver cancer, demonstrated promising Phase I efficacy and safety results in patients with a diverse array of common large market cancers. Jennerex's products target, attack and eradicate cancers through a novel and potent oncolytic mechanism that is dependent on highly-specific replication of the company's poxviruses in cancer cells. These products simultaneously stimulate the body's immune response to the cancer. Of note, this mechanism of action and the results in patients to date put the Company's product class in a leadership position. Jennerex's position is in marked contrast to gene therapy and standard cancer vaccine approaches. For more information about Jennerex and the company's robust pipeline and three clinical-stage products, please visit www.jennerex.com.
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