By Lisa Seachrist
WASHINGTON—Calling the time right for a global reach, Introgen Therapeutics Inc., has formed a London-based company, Gendux Inc., to develop gene-based therapeutics.
Gendux, which will exist as a wholly owned Introgen subsidiary, will focus on developing relationships with the European science community as a means of acquiring technology and establishing collaborations with academic institutions and corporate entities in Europe. Gendux will have access to all of Introgen's gene delivery systems, as it licenses genes to develop as clinical therapies to a wide variety of diseases.
"We felt it is an important time to establish a European base, because we really see biotechnology as a global industry," said David Nance, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Introgen and chairman of Gendux.
Introgen, which specializes in developing gene-based therapies, will fund Gendux's activities until the company has established some collaborations and is in the position to contribute to its day-to-day activities. The availability of Introgen's gene delivery systems and manufacturing capabilities will give Gendux a leg up on many start-up biotechnology companies, Nance said.
"In effect, this allows Gendux to become a mature company at the outset," Nance said. "In a very short period of time, [it] will have a pipeline of products ready for clinical testing. Their time frame will be significantly compressed."
In June, Introgen negotiated an exclusive option to license from Imperial Cancer Research Technology Ltd. (ICRT), of London, the tumor suppressor gene PTEN for use in gene therapy treating cancer. While not commenting on whether that technology will become part of Gendux's pipeline, Nance said Introgen has negotiated other such deals on behalf of Gendux with institutions from the European continent, and will be announcing them shortly.
Introgen has not announced the financial arrangements surrounding the formation of Gendux, but expects the announcement of the service agreement between the two companies will be forthcoming.
Introgen's most advanced product is ADP53, an adenoviral-p53 gene therapy for cancer under development with RPR Gencell, the gene therapy division of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc., of Collegeville, Pa. That product has completed Phase II studies for treating head and neck cancer and is in Phase II studies for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
ADP53 is being tested in Phase I studies for prostate, ovarian, breast, colorectal and brain cancers.
Nance said RPR Gencell expects ADP53 to hit the market sometime in 2000 — at which point, Nance told BioWorld Today, Introgen may pick up on plans to take the company public. Those plans were scuttled in the fall of 1996, when the market turned bearish toward biotechnology.
"We are considering an [initial public offering] consistent with a product license application filing," Nance said. *