A Medical Device Daily

Genetronics Biomedical (San Diego), a late-stage developer of oncology and other therapies using electroporation to deliver drugs and nucleic acids, reported the acquisition of Inovio AS (Oslo, Norway).

The Norwegian firm is a leading developer of gene delivery technology for the most efficient, nonviral method for gene transfer to skeletal muscles.

The share purchase agreement consists of $3 million in cash, $7 million in Genetronics stock and potential additional share payments given the achievement of certain revenue milestones.

The deal includes cash in Inovio's treasury of about $775,000 and roughly $2 million in current and anticipated appropriations for biodefense research from the U.S. Army and other grant sources.

Genetronics said Inovio's use of electroporation for gene therapy and DNA vaccines is a complement to its existing electroporation therapy program. It said the acquisition expands its intellectual property in electroporation, expands the number of agreements it has with major pharmaceutical companies, and provides for the near-term initiation of a Phase I/II DNA vaccine clinical trial.

Inovio CEO Iacob Mathiesen, PhD, will serve as executive director, gene delivery at Genetronics.

“This is a perfect strategic fit as we increase our licensing activities in the area of DNA therapies involving intramuscular electroporation for application to vaccines and immunotherapy,“ said Avtar Dhillon, MD, Genetronics' president and CEO. “Together with Dr. Mathiesen and his team, we will promote and advance gene-based collaborations with existing and new partners. We anticipate that license revenue from our DNA delivery technology will be increasingly important in creating additional value for our shareholders.“

Mathiesen said, “I am delighted to bring our technology and products to Genetronics, the market leader in electroporation-based therapies. Genetronics is in an enviable position to enable the advancement of DNA vaccinations and gene therapy, and I am certain that the company will play a prominent role in this promising and rapidly growing area.“

Genetronics is moving its lead product, the MedPulser Electroporation Therapy System, through premarketing studies for head and neck cancer and skin cancer in Europe, where it has CE mark accreditation, and a Phase III pivotal study for recurrent head and neck cancer in the U.S.

Five Star Quality Care (Newton, Massachusetts) said it has entered an agreement to purchase six assisted living communities for $63.5 million.

The six communities to be purchased all are located in western Pennsylvania and are currently operated by a privately owned company. These communities have resident capacity of 654 and they were 95% occupied as of Nov. 30, 2004. All of the revenues at these communities are paid by residents from their private resources.

The closing of the purchase is subject to various contingencies, including Five Star Quality Care's satisfactory completion of diligence, appropriate licensing and other customary conditions. The company said it expects to fund the purchase using cash on hand, drawings under its line of credit and mortgage or sale-leaseback transactions for some of the communities being purchased or for certain other unencumbered communities the company currently owns.

The deal is expected to close during the first quarter.

Five Star Quality Care owns, leases, manages and operates senior living communities that offer a mix of housing options, including independent living apartments, assisted living accommodations and skilled nursing services. It also owns and operates two institutional pharmacies.

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