Gaining immune-regulation technologies, Enzo Biochem Inc. acquired the assets of privately held OraGen Corp.
Enzo expects the acquisition to broaden its capabilities in immunological regulation in order to treat infectious diseases. The company said it conducted the acquisition as part of its strategy to accelerate its own development program.
Elazar Rabbani, chairman and CEO of Enzo, said in a prepared statement that OraGen's technology provides an added dimension to Enzo. "It will help to accelerate the work we have already accomplished. This move is a clear manifestation of the aggressiveness with which we are pursuing our therapeutic programs," he said.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Enzo, which has corporate offices in Farmingdale, N.Y., manufactures various labeling kits recommended for the processing of samples for use with probe arrays in expression analysis applications. They are marketed to life sciences companies.
The company also concentrates on the development of enabling technologies in the areas of gene regulation, immune regulation and gene editing. Enzo Therapeutics, a division of Enzo Biochem, has developed products in the clinic for HIV-1 infection, chronic active hepatitis B and C viruses and autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn's disease. The company's gene-editing products are in the preclinical phase to treat inborn errors of metabolism, such as sickle cell anemia.
OraGen, of Morristown, N.J., has developed methods and compositions that would be useful for regulating immune responses. The technology, Enzo said, specifically would help to regulate undesirable immune responses of people with infectious diseases.
Most people who become infected with hepatitis B virus exhibit few clinical symptoms and eliminate the virus from their system within several weeks following exposure. But about 10 percent of people infected acutely with hepatitis B virus develop a chronic infection. And a large number of the chronically infected people develop life-threatening cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular carcinoma, Enzo said.
The company has completed enrollment in an open-label Phase II study of EHT899 for hepatitis B-associated chronic hepatitis. It now is working to begin a multisite, double-blind Phase II study of the drug. Another product, EHC18, met its endpoints in a Phase I trial for chronic hepatitis C and will be further developed, the company said. Enzo also is conducting a double-blind Phase II study of an immune regulation therapy for Crohn's disease.
Last month, Enzo began a Phase I/II study of its Stealth Vector HGTV43 gene construct for HIV infection at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The objective of the trial is to increase the number of engineered cells containing anti-HIV-1 antisense RNA genes in circulation.
As of Oct. 31, Enzo Biochem had $78.6 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.
Its stock (NYSE:ENZ) rose 63 cents on Thursday to close at $17.62.