BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corp. is getting off the ground in a hurry, completing its Series A equity financing worth more than $8 million while relocating into larger headquarters and lab facilities.
"I think that there were two keys to raising this money," BioRexis CEO David King told BioWorld Today. "The first is an experienced and deep management team in place, and the second is our very exciting business model that has shown a focus on developing products in a rapid timetable."
BioRexis' directors include its two founders, King and Christopher Prior, now the company's president, as well as Chairman Fred Kyle, formerly a senior executive with SmithKlineBeecham. The company also named two investor representatives to its board concurrent with the financing.
King of Prussia, Pa.-based BioRexis said it would direct the funds toward its drug development program, with plans to file its first investigational new drug application in the coming year. With operations just getting under way in July, the company aims to develop peptide-based drugs with long-lasting therapeutic benefits and associated costs, as well as antibody therapeutics.
"The money is sufficient to allow us to develop three products in parallel - which is our theory of reducing enterprise risk by working on multiple products - and to get at least two of them into the IND stage," King said.
BioRexis said its technology platform produces biopharmaceuticals by genetically engineering protein and peptide drugs into the scaffold of its carrier protein.
"Our technology is a fusion technology," King said. "We have a proprietary fusion molecule, and we take a protein or peptide drug and genetically fuse it to our proprietary molecule. We then express in a proprietary yeast expression system the entire fused molecule."
The result is a drug designed to have improved half-life, efficacy and safety - mimicking the attributes of the carrier protein. King labeled the carrier protein's uniqueness a significant difference between BioRexis' technology and other protein fusion technologies.
"For example, one of the things we can do with it is control biodistribution in terms of the blood-brain barrier," he said. "We believe that we can modify our carrier molecule so that it has either full biodistribution throughout the body, including into the central nervous system, or can be modified so that it would not cross the blood-brain barrier."
But he added that the carrier's most distinguishing characteristic is its use in the company's Trans-body program, in which the carrier is being used to create an antibody. BioRexis uses its protein-engineering technology to replace monoclonal antibodies with its Trans-bodies, which can be produced in yeast expression systems, a production method designed to be more cost-efficient than synthetic chemistry.
"We can use that molecule to create our forms of our own monoclonal antibodies," King said. "We think our fusion technology is very unique in terms of the type of molecule that we've selected, and what we can do with it."
The company's development plans include programs involving the fusion of a classic peptide to the carrier, an existing biopharmaceutical being modified for an extended half-life and longer patent use, and the Trans-body program. King declined to disclose the projects' specific focuses, though he said they all address significant indications.
"One of the problems we've had, but it's a nice problem - my mother would call it a high-class problem - is the breadth of our technology and how widely applicable it is," he said. "We wanted to pick initial applications that would both show off the technology and in and of themselves be very attractive commercial projects."
Thus far BioRexis' progress has attracted the attention of potential collaborators. King said the company initially plans to work in partnership with larger pharmaceutical companies to further develop its products. Down the road, BioRexis aims to develop its own programs internally. But King pointed to a goal of finalizing within the coming year the company's first development partnership agreement, with talks already under way.
The 14-employee company's new headquarters and laboratories fill a 36,000-square-foot facility, enough space to develop sufficient supply for clinical trials, King said.
The financing included Greenwich, Conn.-based Tullis-Dickerson & Co. Inc., San Diego-based ProQuest Investments and Philadelphia-based Quaker BioVentures. BioRexis added to its board Tullis-Dickerson's Lyle Hohnke and Quaker BioVentures' P. Sherrill Neff.