BioWorld International Correspondent

IDgene Pharmaceuticals Ltd. has shut down operations following a failed contract for about $2 million from Finnish company Jurilab.

Since early 2002, IDgene has tried but failed to raise capital from new investors and hasn't closed deals with pharma and biotech companies outside Israel. In June, IDgene, of Jerusalem, fired 25 of its 40-person research and development staff, calling the move a "transition to the new stage in the company's business" with a focus on business and not on further technological developments. The company's burn rate of about $100,000 per month with no income discouraged investors, although it had raised $10.6 million since it was founded in 1999 with support for Apax Partners (Israel), Apax Europe and Israel Seed.

IDgene was considered a leader in population genomics, holding the largest gene bank of Ashkenazi Jews in the world, with the aim to associate genetic variations within ethnic groups with disease expression. Other local companies have since expressed interest in the bank, which by agreement with the Israeli Health Ministry cannot be moved out of the country.

IDgene President and CEO Ariel Darvasi could not be reached for comment.