October 29, 2011

Biotech Firm Acquired In Deal

Breandan Kearney  /  Post and Courier

Immunologix to Be Part of Virginia Company

Immunologix, a Charleston-grown biotechnology firm with ties to the Medical University of South Carolina, has been acquired by a larger Virginia science business.

Founded by a graduate of MUSC's doctoral program who licensed a university patent, Immunologix now is part of Intrexon's California-based protein production division.

Financial terms of the deal, which was announced this week, were not disclosed.

An Intrexon spokesman would not guarantee the business would remain in Charleston, but said the company is considering expanding the Meeting Street lab space now occupied by the acquired firm.

Ernest Andrade, director of Charleston Business Development and head of the city's Digital Corridor initiative, said it was noteworthy that Immunologix "went from researching its technology to being acquired" in less than 18 months.

"That's remarkably fast and ... demonstrates the value of the technology to this company that I understand is pretty substantially valued," Andrade said Friday.

Immunologix was among the first companies to move into the S.C. Research Authority-MUSC Innovation Center on upper Meeting Street early last year. It received $200,000 of its $1.1 million in startup capital from the research authority's S.C. Launch venture capital fund, which also awarded Fiorini's company a $50,000 grant in 2009.

MUSC officials could not be eached for comment Friday about whether either agency received any proceeds from the company's sale. SCRA spokeswoman Ashley Hannah said Friday that the authority was "not able to disclose any of those details without the company's permission due to contractual obligations with Intrexon."

Privately held Intrexon said it would not make Immunologix founder Ryan Fiorini available. He is now a vice president with Intrexon.

Immunologix specialized in isolating specific antibodies in discarded human tissue. Immunologix's clients include pharmaceutical companies that use those antibodies to study disease treatments.

The antibodies are unique because they are fully human, unlike those traditionally used in drug research. The current market for therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies is estimated to exceed $40 billion a year worldwide, according to Intrexon.