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French Connection
December 2013
by Lori Lesko  |  Email the author
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LYON, France—Targeted toward focusing on its immunology R&D and bolstering its propriety IMX313 antigen re-engineering technology, Imaxio, a Lyon, France-based biopharmaceutical, has sold its genomics division to Paris-based Hybrigenics. The financial terms of the agreement, announced Oct. 16, were not disclosed.
 
Shedding its genomics branch has freed up Imaxio to expend its resources on its strong- suit—developing vaccines to fight major global diseases.
 
“There is a major need to improve the efficacy of vaccine candidates in human and animal health. We will rise to this challenge by focusing on the development of our IMX313 technology,” Alexandre le Vert, CEO of Imaxio, stated in a news release. “IMX313 may resolve the problems of developing vaccines and immunotherapies for key therapeutic indications such as tuberculosis, staphylococcal infection, influenza and malaria.”
 
Imaxio’s genomics division was successful and growing, with a 200-percent growth rate expected between 2012 and 2013, le Vert tells DDNews.
 
The sale of its genomic division to Hybrigenics “will allow Imaxio to focus on developing IMX313, mostly through a full focus of all teams, resources and efforts towards our immunology platform,” le Vert said. “Additionally, the sale of our genomics division will allow us to get back into one single location in Lyon, which is the French cluster in immunology.”
 
 “We believe that this move will create good synergies for the genomics division within a group which already has experience in growing this type of business,” le Vert said. Plus, Hybrigenics’ “growth plan was credible and the teams supported it. So it was clear that Hybrigenics was the right partner.”
 
Also, with its partner the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Imaxio is currently developing the vaccine candidate MVA-85A-IMX313 indicated in the prevention of human tuberculosis, he said.
 
“This vaccine candidate is currently evaluated in humans under a Phase I clinical trial driven by the Jenner Institute,” le Vert said. “In addition, Imaxio has two key projects: One, to develop a vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus; and the other, to improve the current flu vaccines with broader-spectrum vaccines.”
 
“In addition, we are working with animal health partners to give them access to our technology via their internal programs,” he said.
 
Looking toward the future, le Vert says Imaxio’s long-term goals include “out-licensing its vaccine candidates and potentially the entire IMX313 platform to big pharmas capable of executing late-stage development programs and subsequently commercializing such vaccines.”
 
Imaxio recently initiated a Phase I clinical trial of IMX313 in tuberculosis and is one of the coordinators of the EU-funded Bellerophon project to develop a vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus.
 
In France, Imaxio already markets Spirolept, a human vaccine indicated for preventing a work-related infectious disease, and Trolovol, an orphan drug indicated for a congenital metabolic disease, according to the company. These core biopharmaceutical products generated revenue of $3.4 million in 2012, providing significant financial support for the continuation of R&D activity.
Hybrigenics announced the acquisition of genomic activities from Imaxio which specialize in the extraction and DNA sequencing or RNA to obtain information on the genome and the gene expression of any living organism in normal and pathological conditions.
 
This information is crucial in many applications, such as the diagnosis of genetic diseases, profiling of cancerous tumors to choose the most appropriate treatment, the direct identification of viral and bacterial strains or the characterization of plant varieties obtained by selection.
 
More specifically, though, the Imaxio genomics division is one of the few European service providers certified by Agilent to use its SureSelect target enrichment, comparative genomic hybridization and microRNA microarrays technologies. It also has an Illumina genotyping and next-generation sequencing platform.
 
Thanks to these new technologies, genomic information becomes more accessible, both in terms of cost and time, Hybrigenics stated in a news release.
 
“With the acquisition of Imaxio genomics, Hybrigenics penetrates immediately on this dynamic market with the same service policy while integrated high-quality customer-oriented, which is already the hallmark of proteomic Hybrigenics activities services,” the company stated.
 
To finance its future growth genomic services, Hybrigenics has received $1.3 million from Pradeyrol Development (PRD), a family office and majority shareholder of Imaxio, in the form of a private placement. With 2.5 million newly issued shares representing 11.4 percent of capital, PRD becomes Hybrigenics’ reference shareholder, with an observer seat on the company’s board of directors.
 
“The acquisition of the Imaxio genomics division allows Hybrigenics a foothold in an expanding market and investment by Pradeyrol Development provides resources to grow this new genomic activity,” Remi Delansorne, CEO of Hybrigenics, stated.
“We are very happy with this transaction for three reasons: firstly, it will allow the genomics activity of Imaxio to accelerate its growth, secondly it will allow Imaxio to focus on one core business which is immunology, and finally it allows Pradeyrol Development to become a reference shareholder in Hybrigenics,” Dr. Christian Pradeyrol stated in a news release.
 
Hybrigenics announced on Sept. 26 the creation of a U.S. subsidiary called Hybrigenics Corp., based in Cambridge, Mass., to represent activities in R&D, regulatory affairs and business development, and to participate in the commercialization of scientific services dedicated to protein interactions offered Hybrigenics Services.
 
The choice of a bio-cluster in the Boston area was driven in part by the concentration and proximity to the leading academic institutions Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as the R&D centers of advanced biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
 
“The creation of Hybrigenics Corp. is a major strategic initiative to strengthen our presence in the United States,” Delansorne said. “Being closer to our U.S. customers will allow us to increase our ability to offer them our solutions experts in functional proteomics … and will also facilitate our future interactions with the FDA.”
 
Code: E121311

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