L.A. biotech firm invests $21.5 mil in TGen initiatives

February 1, 2008

By hammersmith

Compiled from media reports

Abraxis Bioscience, a Los Angeles-based biotechnology company with a growing presence in Phoenix, is investing $21.5 million in two initiatives of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). The programs take complementary approaches to help propel discoveries toward commercial viability and clinical applications.

Abraxis and TGen Accelerators, TGen’s commercialization arm, have drawn up a letter of intent to cooperatively establish Catapult Bio, a new nonprofit dedicated to bringing bioscience research to the marketplace, along with a National Personalized Health Network (NPHN), which will be an Arizona-based platform to link and support institutions nationwide conducting personalized-medicine clinical trials.

Abraxis is committing $14 million to Catapult Bio and $7.5 million to the NPHN under the terms of the letter of intent, which was facilitated for Abraxis and TGen by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Abraxis and TGen anticipate that Catapult Bio will create new companies by maximizing late-state discovery research. The second initiative, the NPHN, via the establishment of Individualized Therapy Centers in Arizona and around the country, will help to create a network to support more Phase I clinical studies in the area of personalized medicine.

“We are committed to making this happen,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, chairman and CEO of Abraxis, in the Arizona Republic. “This is a very novel and exciting approach to try to change the paradigm of cancer therapy.”

Besides spurring advances in personalized medicine, the Catapult initiative addresses a persistent obstacle for innovations in biotechnology, the so-called “Valley of Death,” the period between research discovery and advanced clinical trials when funding is most scarce, given the potential for ventures to fail.

“This is significant for Arizona; we have the infrastructure and bioscience capital in place to conduct clinical trials and bring to market important bioscientific work,” said Gov. Janet Napolitano. “There are a multitude of discoveries occurring each day that these initiatives—the critical links necessary—will enable to become globally viable and accessible.”

The Arizona Department of Commerce had previously helped Abraxis to gain a toehold in Arizona, authorizing a grant of $750,000 and a loan of $250,000 for the firm to renovate the Phoenix drug manufacturing plant it bought in August from Watson Pharmaceuticals.

For more information:

Bio firm invests $21.5 mil in TGen,” Arizona Republic, 01/31/2008

Governor’s Office media release