OXIS International Inc. out-licensed its lead product, BXT-51072, and related compounds to HaptoGuard Inc. in a deal that potentially could bring OXIS $21 million.
OXIS, of Portland, Ore., gave privately held HaptoGuard, of New York, exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and market BXT-51072 and the related compounds from a specific OXIS antioxidant library. HaptoGuard is paying $450,000 up front in the deal, but milestone payments could push the deal's value to $21 million, not including royalty payments.
HaptoGuard's CEO and chairman, Noah Berkowitz, said his firm would first look to develop the compounds for diabetics who have a high risk for cardiovascular complications, potentially due to excessive lipid peroxidation. Beyond in-licensing, HaptoGuard's internal drug discovery program is based on pharmacogenomics.
BXT-51072 is part of a class of orally active compounds designed to mimic the activity of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme which might protect against excessive oxidation of lipids. OXIS completed a Phase IIa trial with BXT-51072 in inflammatory bowel disease in 1999.
OXIS has been around since the '80s and develops, manufactures and markets goods and technologies related to oxidative stress, offering more than 80 research products. Its OxisResearch line includes research kits that simplify the testing of oxidative, antioxidant, nitrosative and inflammatory biomarkers thought to play a role in degenerative diseases. In 2003, OXIS launched its Animal Health Profiling Program, which was created to bring to market screening tests to measure oxidative stress in cattle blood. And OXIS has Ergothioneine in development for the nutraceuticals market. The product, l-ergothioneine, is a natural antioxidant amino acid found in high concentrations in tissues of the body exposed to high levels of oxidative stress, and it has to be obtained from the diet.
But OXIS' shares have traded at less than a dollar since November 2000 and closed as low as 7 cents per share in October 2001. It brought in $433,000 in revenues in the second quarter of 2004, all of that from the sale of research assays and fine chemicals, and it ended the quarter with total assets of about $2.8 million and reported a $1.2 million net loss. For the first six months of this year, it posted revenues of $1 million and a net loss of about $1.8 million, or 7 cents per share, basic and diluted.
OXIS' stock (OTC BB: OXIS) fell 4 cents Tuesday to close at 58 cents.
New York-based Axonyx Inc. said in January it was buying 54 percent of OXIS and becoming the majority shareholder. That chunk of OXIS was valued at about $8.1 million at the time. In July, company Chairman, President and CEO Ray Rogers retired, and the company appointed Gosse Bruinsma chairman and acting CEO. Bruinsma is president and chief operating officer of now majority holder Axonyx Inc. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 21, 2004.)