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Biophan Technologies (Rochester, New York), a developer of technologies designed to improve the MRI compatibility of medical devices, said it has agreed to acquire Amris (Castrop-Rauxel/Gelsenkirchen, Germany), a developer of MRI-safe and image-compatible solutions and biomedical devices.

Biophan also will acquire the exclusive license to Amris's 15 issued and pending patents covering imaging of devices such as stents and other vascular implants. The parties said they expect to execute a definitive agreement and complete due diligence by Jan. 31.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

When completed, the acquisition will provide Biophan, it said, “with products, technologies and scientific expertise that extends intellectual property portfolio of medical solutions in the fast-growing marketplace of products and procedures that are compatible with MRI.“

Among Amris's assets are an MRI-visible catheter marker, an MRI-visible stent and a series of MRI-visible medical devices, in development. The company reported receiving several million dollars in upcoming grants from government agencies to develop its next-generation technology for MRI.

The acquisition and related licensing deal will bring Biophan's patent portfolio to 107 U.S. patents, licenses or applications, in addition to 12 pending European patents, it said.

Michael Weiner, Biophan CEO, said the addition of Amris would offer “an important boost to our marketing capabilities, particularly in Europe, where major manufacturers of MRI machines and biomedical devices are based and where much of the leading research in MRI-guided interventional medicine is currently being conducted.“

Upon deal closing, Amris will be renamed Biophan Europe, and Michael Friebe, PhD, will continue as president and join the Biophan board. AMRIS' scientific director and chief technology officer, Andreas Melzer, MD, will join the Biophan scientific advisory board.

Friebe is a scientist and entrepreneur trained in MRI-related physics at the University of California at San Fran- cisco and the University of Witten (Witten, Germany). Melzer is a professor of applied biomedical engineering, director and chairman of the board at the Institute for Medical Technologies and Management in Medicine at the University of Applied Sciences (Gelsenkirchen, Germany).

“Even more important to us than the very valuable patents that we are licensing exclusively under this agreement are the extraordinary people in AMRIS who are joining the Biophan team,“ said Weiner.

Light Sciences (Seattle) on Friday reported the creation of three subsidiary companies developing light-activated treatments using light infusion technology (Litx). They are Light Sciences Oncology (LSO), Visient Therapeutics and Vascular Reconditioning (VRI).

Albert Luderer, PhD, president and CEO of Light Sciences, said that reorganization into the spun-off companies “will allow us to operate more efficiently and permit venture firms to invest in the therapeutic area that they find most compelling. The individual companies will have exclusive access to Light Sciences' intellectual property within their disease category and will individually seek venture funding. Each company will become [a] fully independent business focused on exploiting Litx.“

Light Sciences describes Litx as a next-generation photodynamic therapy platform in which the photoreactive drug, LS11 (talaporfin sodium) is activated by non-coherent light to treat abnormally proliferating tissues. Light Sciences and Visient reported that they are conducting multinational clinical trials of Litx under an FDA-approved investigation drug exemption in cancer and eye disease.

LSO is testing Litx in a multi-center Phase II trial treating patients with liver metastases arising from colorectal cancer. It plans to begin clinical development of Litx in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma this year. Hepatocellular carcinoma, among the most malignant of cancers, afflicts more than 600,000 people per year worldwide.

Visient began clinical development in November and is recruiting patients into a Phase I/II clinical trial of LS11 in patients with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Positive preliminary results from an ongoing European investigator-sponsored clinical trial were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (San Francisco) last October.

VRI is developing a coronary atherosclerosis treatment for interventional cardiologists to use against vulnerable plaque. It said it is preparing to complete the preclinical evaluation of the cardiovascular properties of Litx and to “transition the development program into the clinic.“

Light Sciences, founded in 1995, is privately owned.

In other dealmaking, DFB Pharmaceuticals (Fort Worth, Texas) reported acquiring the wound management activities of EpiSource, a company of IsoTis OrthoBiologics (both Lausanne, Switzerland). Transaction terms were not disclosed.

EpiSource is a developer of cell-based therapies. DFB provides products, outsourcing services and licensing opportunities to healthcare worldwide through its affiliates, partners and branded marketing organizations.

“We believe that the future of advanced wound care will include more pharmaceutical and cell-based biologic products,“ said Michael Steadman, senior vice president of DFB and president of Healthpoint Ltd. Tissue Management (Fort Worth), a DFB affiliate developing therapies for skin and soft tissue.

In August 2003, IsoTis and Healthpoint entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for Allox, a spray delivery platform utilizing live human cells for wound treatment. In 2003, IsoTis announced the establishment of EpiSource SA to create an independent vehicle and a potential spin-off company for its wound management portfolio. Allox, the lead product of that portfolio, also includes EpiDex and AcuDress Technologies. IsoTis OrthoBiologics' portfolio includes natural and synthetic bone graft substitutes on the market and several others in development.

DFB affiliates are Healthpoint; DPT Laboratories, an outsourcing service organization to the pharmaceutical industry; and Phyton Biotech, operator of a major manufacturing facility for plant cell fermentation.

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