Synthetic biology firm Intrexon is paying $11.63 million for a 5% stake in Ziopharm Oncology as part of a global collaboration through which Ziopharm gains rights to use its partner’s UltraVector® transgene engineering platform for the development of DNA-based anticancer drugs. The deal gives Ziopharm rights to Intrexon’s complete human in vivo effector platform in the field of oncology, including a Phase I-candidate for metastatic melanoma and another anticancer candidate at the IND submission stage.
Intrexon retains the responsibility for technology discovery research, managing the patent estate, and certain aspects of manufacturing. Ziopharm will shoulder preclinical and clinical development of candidates along with their commercialization and other manufacturing responsibilities.
The financial nuts and bolts of the share-based agreement will see Intrexon pay $4.8 per share for the first 2,422,542 shares of Ziopharm’s common stock. Ziopharm will then immediately issue to Intrexon another 3,641,391 shares in its common stock at no cost, representing an additional 7.495% stake. Intrexon could subsequently receive shares representing yet another 7.495% stake in Ziopharm once the latter starts a U.S. trial evaluating a product developed using Intrexon technology.
Intrexon has also agreed the potential future purchase of up to a $50 million worth of Ziopharm securities offered under certain conditions and limitations. Meanwhile, Ziopharm could pay Intrexon 50% of cumulative net quarterly profits derived from the sale of products developed through the partnership.
Intrexon is exploiting its synthetic biology-based UltraVector genetic engineering platform for applications in therapeutics, protein production, industrial biotechnology, and agricultural biotechnology. The firm claims the platform provides flexible, consistent and precision-based capabilities for designing, producing, and testing complex transgenes.
“Controllable, scalable synthetic biology, the tightly regulated delivery of therapeutic proteins from within the body, is an aspirational and disruptive technology, which Intrexon has brought from scientific theory to medical applications,” claims Jonathan Lewis, M.D., Ziopharm CEO and CMO. “As the sole channel partner for in vivo therapeutic candidates for human oncology, Ziopharm plans to leverage this technology for next-generation products targeting key pathways used by cancers to grow and metastasize. Intrexon has developed a technology that is uniquely flexible, scalable, and controllable, adding significantly to our small molecule development capabilities.”