Micrologix Biotech Inc. acquired the assets of bankrupt Origenix Technologies Inc., which will propel Micrologix into a full-fledged anti-infectives company.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Micrologix acquired the intellectual property of Montreal-based Origenix for $320,000 and gained a portfolio of preclinical candidates, as well as a candidate in the clinic for the human papillomavirus that had been licensed from Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.

"When Origenix went into bankruptcy, the license [with Hybridon] was no longer valid, so we also had to secure a license from Hybridon [as part of the deal]," said Jonathan Burke, manager of investor relations at Micrologix.

The collaboration with Hybridon gives Micrologix the exclusive worldwide rights to a family of patents covering several antisense oligonucleotides targeted to the HPV genome.

As a result of the collaboration, Hybridon will receive an up-front payment and potential milestones upon the achievement of clinical objectives, plus royalties on sales and sublicensing revenues. Up-front and milestone payments could total $5.7 million, which will be paid either in cash or in equity.

The acquisition of Origenix brought Micrologix an antisense drug candidate, ORI 1001, which successfully completed a Phase I trial for the treatment of diseases associated with HPV, such as genital warts. Origenix had invested a great deal of resources into the trial, completed in 2001, Burke said.

Micrologix will continue the development of ORI 1001 as part of the collaboration with Hybridon.

"It's great because it validates our technology by forming another collaboration," said Felice deJong, director of business development for Hybridon. "We've already licensed our chemistries to Isis [Pharmaceuticals Inc.], EpiGenesis [Pharmaceuticals] and MethylGene [Inc.], and we're expecting to license these technologies to a long stream of people in the future."

In August, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., and Hybridon canceled remaining financial obligations related to their collaboration and license agreement that dates to last year. In May 2001, the companies signed an agreement for parts of each other's intellectual property that was to net Hybridon about $28.5 million. (See BioWorld Today, May 29, 2001.)

In April 2001, Hybridon and EpiGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., entered a collaboration to develop and market up to five antisense drugs for respiratory diseases. Hybridon was scheduled to receive a $500,000 up-front cash payment in addition to royalties and sublicense fees on any future compounds that use Hybridon's chemistries.

The acquisition of Origenix also gave Micrologix a portfolio of programs, including a hepatitis C virus assay technology that is under development as a cell-based viral replication assay. And Micrologix received therapeutic programs based on a nucleic acid mimic technology designed to target hepatitis B, HCV and HIV.

"A year ago we were a cationic peptide company," Burke said. "Our focus since our new CEO came on board has been to expand our portfolio, mainly in anti-infectives. Now we are in all phases, including viral, fungal and bacterial. It really makes us a total anti-infective company."

Micrologix's stock (TSE:MBI) lost C5 cents Thursday to close at C96 cents. Hybridon's stock (OTC BB:HYBN) rose 15 cents, or 20 percent, to close at 90 cents.