Pharma plant firm hits wall
*Revenue for the year ended December 31 2010: $479,516 in revenue from continuing operations (compared to $1,571,114 for the previous year)
*Net loss for the year ended December 31 2010: $8,260,239 or $0.17 per share from continuing operations (compared to $6,492,390 or $0.19 per share for the previous year).
Safflower-based drug developer hits wall
AgCanada, September 25 2010
The Calgary biotech firm using genetically-modified safflowers as factories to develop plant-based insulin and a cardiovascular drug has laid off its staff and hasn't ruled out winding down its operations.
SemBioSys Genetics said it had provided "working notice of termination to all affected employees" on Friday morning in an effort to "stretch its available cash runway" while it explores its options.
Those options, the company said Friday, could include a corporate sale or merger, an asset sale, a "significant" restructuring and recapitalization, an "orderly wind-down" of the business or an "accelerated" partnering deal for either its safflower-based insulin or its product Apo AI (Milano), a protein that's found in HDL ("good" cholesterol) and that it hoped to develop into a treatment for athlerosclerosis.
SemBioSys said in a release Friday that these "tough and painful measures" were needed to try and preserve its business, but it could offer "no assurance that any of the strategic alternatives, if successful, will provide any return to the shareholders."
The company didn't name any names in Friday's release, but did say "a number of interested parties" have been in negotiations and diligence reviews with an eye to partnering with SemBioSys on either insulin or Apo AI.
Also, SemBioSys said, it believes it makes a "potentially attractive M+A (merger and acquisition) target to some of these aforementioned parties. Additionally, it believes its product candidates may be attractive assets for purchase by one or more of these parties."
The company added it's also "in the midst of a previously announced fund raise, for which there has been interest expressed" but for which no deal has yet been closed.
"Day and night"
"I want to assure you that my fellow colleagues and I are working day and night to create the best possible outcome for the company and all of its stakeholders," SemBioSys CEO James Szarko said in the same release.
The company's maneuvering follows a number of lapsed agreements with other firms, such as Los Angeles-based drugmaker MannKind Corp., which let its year-long option for SemBioSys' insulin product lapse in March 2009 after the U.S. firm made a deal to buy a Pfizer insulin facility in Germany.
The previous year, Aqua Bounty, a Delaware biotech firm working in the aquaculture industry, announced it would scale back its marketing and registration efforts for a feed additive, ImmunoSphere, created in SemBioSys' safflowers to help prevent disease in farmed shrimp.
"Our plant technology allows us to provide a cost-effective production solution for drugs needed in large quantities due to the number of people affected by disease and/or high dosage requirements," SemBioSys said on its site.
The company set up shop in 1994 and went public in late 2004, trading on the TSX.