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TNX-355 survives Tanox: new Phase 2 Dose-Finding StudyStudy
  Genentech license launches new team at TaiMed Biologics
New TNX-355 Phase 2 Dose-Finding Study (IV administration evert 2 or 4 weeks)
April 2008
Houston Business Journal -
by Mary Ann Azevedo Houston Business Journal
Dr. Stanley Lewis of TaiMed Biologics: Keeping clinical trials in Houston with financial support from the government of Taiwan.
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A promising HIV/AIDS treatment drug formerly in the Tanox Inc. fold remains in the Houston pipeline.
TaiMed Biologics Inc. will conduct clinical trials of TNX-355 -- also known as Ibalizumab -- from a location on the West Loop near the former Tanox headquarters in suburban Bellaire.
The newly formed subsidiary of Taiwan-based TaiMed Inc. is funded in part by the government of Taiwan.
The scientific founder of TaiMed Biologics is famed AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho, who briefly served on Tanox's scientific advisory board and was Time magazine's 1996 Man of the Year.
Genentech Inc. licensed Ibalizumab to TaiMed Biologics after acquiring Tanox for $919 million and moving the company to California last year.
The San Francisco-based biotech giant bought Tanox primarily for rights to Xolair, a well-known drug used in treating asthma.
Under the new licensing agreement, TaiMed Biologics is moving full speed ahead on development of Ibalizumab.
Dr. Stanley Lewis, vice president and chief medical officer of TaiMed Biologics, says the company will put the drug through a new phase of trials sometime in the first half of this year.
Lewis is one of five former Tanox employees now on the TaiMed Biologics payroll.
The company's U.S. office is essentially virtual. CEO James Chang works out of Irvine, Calif., and other management team members are in San Diego and New York City. Ho, scientific founder of the company, currently serves as CEO of the New York City-based Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center.
TaiMed Biologics is part of a major collaboration between government and the private sector to build the biotechnology industry in Taiwan. The company receives support through the $62 billion National Development Fund of Taiwan.
The fund has earmarked $200 million for biotechnology, and has agreed to invest 40 percent of the capital required by TaiMed Biologics.
Ing-wen Tsai, chairman of TaiMed Inc. and a former vice premier of Taiwan, describes pursuit of the commercialization of Ibalizumab as "a major push to kick off the momentum of this industry in Taiwan."
Genentech also serves as a minority investor in TaiMed Biologics.
Asthma attraction
Genentech's main objective in acquiring Tanox was to increase profitability in the asthma drug market.
The company had a three-way agreement with Tanox and Novartis Pharmaceuticals on Xolair.
Genentech spokeswoman Caroline Pecquet explains the acquisition strategy.
By acquiring Tanox, she says, Genentech was able "to eliminate U.S. royalty obligations to Tanox on Xolair and obtain Novartis' U.S. and ex-U.S. profit share and royalty payments to Tanox."
AIDS therapy didn't fit into Genentech's three primary areas of research -- oncology, immunology and tissue growth and repair. So the firm decided to license out Ibalizumab to a company with specific expertise in HIV.
The licensing agreement gives TaiMed Biologics exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the drug and other anti-CD4 monoclonal antibodies in exchange for undisclosed up front, milestone and royalty payments.
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