HOUSTON, Oct. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- DNAtrix, Inc., the Houston-based biotechnology company developing targeted adenovirus-based oncolytic virus products for brain cancer, announced today a merger with VectorLogics, Inc. (VLI), a company with a complementary intellectual property portfolio developing products for ovarian cancer. The merged company will retain the name DNAtrix and continue to develop its lead cancer product, DNX-2401, which is in clinical testing at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for treating high grade brain tumors.
Dr. Imre Kovesdi, Ph.D., chief executive officer of VLI, and Dr. David T. Curiel, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer and founder of VLI, will join the merged company as chief scientific officer and member of the Scientific Advisory Board, respectively. "We are extremely pleased to join forces with Dr. Curiel and Dr. Kovesdi in this important effort," stated Frank Tufaro, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the merged company. "The merger makes strategic sense, and we are now a much stronger company in all respects."
"As an inventor of VLI's adenoviral technology," stated Dr. Curiel. "I am very pleased to be able to work with the DNAtrix team in turning these discoveries into new cancer therapies. This is a win-win for both companies."
About Frank Tufaro, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Tufaro serves as the chief executive officer of DNAtrix, Inc., where he has been since 2010 and has extensive experience in biotechnology. He was CEO and co-founder of Neurovir, Inc., a Vancouver-based biotech company developing viral-based oncolytic vectors for treating cancer. Dr. Tufaro was instrumental in raising venture financing that established NeuroVir as the major player in the field of viral oncology and also helped negotiate and execute the successful merger of NeuroVir with MediGene AG. Prior to Neurovir, Dr. Tufaro was a University of British Columbia virology professor and holds a Ph.D. in molecular and development biology from McGill University.
About Imre Kovesdi, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Kovesdi joins DNAtrix as chief scientific officer (CSO) and previously served as chief executive officer of VLI. Prior to joining VLI, he served as CSO with GenVec Inc. He joined GenVec in 1993 as one of its first employees and held several senior positions directing research, development and manufacturing before being appointed as CSO. Dr. Kovesdi was also a major contributor to GenVec's intellectual property portfolio. Prior to joining GenVec, he led projects in the development of gene expression systems and therapeutic gene design at the Medical Research Division of the New York-based American Cyanamid Company. He holds a PhD in molecular biology from Simon Fraser University and a degree in electrical engineering from University of British Columbia. Dr. Kovesdi is the holder of over 100 US and foreign patents and has authored over 130 scientific articles in the areas of virology, gene delivery and molecular biology. Dr. Kovesdi has served on the boards of a number of biotechnology and information technology companies.
About David T. Curiel, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Advisory Board member
Dr. Curiel joins DNAtrix as an advisor and previously served as chief scientific officer and founder of VLI. Dr. Curiel is also presently the Director of Cancer Biology and the Biologic Therapy Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Previously he directed the Gene Therapy Center (GTC) of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for 18 years. He holds an M.D. from Emory University where he also completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine. Dr. Curiel's scientific training includes tenureship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Pulmonary Branch of the Heart and Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a fellowship in Biotechnology at the National Cancer Institute, Navy Medical Oncology Branch. He received his PhD from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. He is a recognized leader in the field of vector development and in bench-to-bed translation of gene therapy and virotherapy interventions.
The company's first product, DNX-2401, represents the culmination of over a decade of work and is the first oncolytic virus capable of killing cells with defects at any point in the retinoblastoma (Rb) pathway. DNX-2401 functions by replicating in, and killing tumor cells lacking growth control caused by any defect in the Rb pathway, without targeting a specific point in the pathway itself. This property greatly lowers the risk of drug resistance and toxicity. DNX-2401 is in clinical testing at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for treating glioblastoma multiforme, a type of stage IV brain tumor. For more information about current clinical trials, please visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GB) is a fatal primary brain tumor resistant to conventional therapies. It is the second most common cause of death from intracranial disease, after stroke. The current standard of care – surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy-has extended the overall median survival to 14.6 months. GB is an unmet medical need with a clear need for new therapeutic modalities that can impact the course of the disease.
About VectorLogics, Inc.
VLI was founded by David Curiel, M.D., Ph.D. while at University of Alabama, Birmingham. The Company was funded by Greer Capital for developing novel cancer therapies based on the inventions of Dr. Curiel, Dr. Kovesdi and others.
About DNAtrix, Inc.
DNAtrix is a Houston-based, private biotechnology company focused on the development of oncolytic virus technology for the treatment of cancer. It was founded in 2005 by a world class team of physicians and scientists; Juan Fueyo, M.D., Candelaria Gomez-Manzano, M.D., Charles Conrad, M.D., Al Yun, M.D. and Frank McCormick, Ph.D. DNAtrix has been funded to date by DFJ Mercury and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. For more information about DNAtrix, please visit www.dnatrix.com.
DNAtrix, Inc. Contact
Frank Tufaro, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
SOURCE DNAtrix, Inc.