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Latest From Deltagen Inc.
Versartis (US), an emerging biotechnology company developing therapeutics for metabolic diseases and endocrine disorders, has appointed Paul Westberg senior vice-president of business development. He was most recently vice-president of business development at Bayhill Therapeutics, and has also worked at Collabra Pharma, Deltagen and Genentech. Versartis is planning to initiate its first clinical trial of its lead product candidate VRS-859 in type 2 diabetes in the second half and to have top-line results by the end of the year.
Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, a US provider of knockout rats for genomic pharmaceutical research, has entered the Japanese market through a deal with TransGenic. The Japanese firm, which already supplies its own knockout mice, will market Transposagen's lines under a non-exclusive agreement. The animals are missing selected genes and are used widely as disease models in corporate and academic preclinical research. TransGenic has other similar deals with Deltagen of the US and Austria's JSW-Research.
Given the cyclical nature of the biotech industry, companies--both public and private--are forced to weather financing storms every few years. During lean times, one strategy is to cut operations to create the basis for a financing event and stave off the inevitable cash cliff. But a company focusing all its efforts on one, or at most a few, projects has very little to fall back on should its lead opportunity fail. And the equity markets may not come back in time. BioTransplant's CEO-Donald Hawthorne, brought in to save the company, understood from the beginning that companies with just a few months of cash left tend to fail. His challenge: to avoid failure, while at the same time maximizing the chance that in the event of bankruptcy, at least some of the assets of the company could create additional value.
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