Billionaire's biotech seals second deal with Synthetic Biologics

Biotech startup Intrexon has expanded the synthetic biology shop's ties with drug developer Synthetic Biologics ($SYN), picking up ownership in the partner as part of a deal focused on generating monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases. And the deal advances the master plan at Intrexon, backed by biotech billionaire Randal Kirk, to commercialize its synthetic biology and other proprietary technologies through close ties with channel partners.

Intrexon (a 2011 Fierce 15 company) plans to get 3.6 million shares upfront from Synthetic Biologics, whose stock closed at $2 on Tuesday. As in its past deals with Ziopharm and Oragenics, Intrexon isn't after hefty cash sums as much as ownership in the partnerships and the royalties on potential product sales. Intrexon has plenty of access to cash from the deep pockets of Randal Kirk, whose venture firm Third Security and Sandbox Industries fueled the startup's $75 million round earlier this year. And if the latest deal between Intrexon and Synthetic Biologics (formerly Adeona) goes through, Kirk's biotech will own an 18% stake in the drug developer.

Synthetic Biologics has tapped Intrexon for a trio of platforms that will allow the company to design, vet and produce fully human antibodies. To start, the drug developer plans to develop the antibodies for attacking three infectious diseases, focusing on bugs that can't be treated adequately or at all with existing antibiotics and meds. The collaboration could be expanded to 5 infectious diseases, yet Synthetic Biologics says that the specific targets on its own schedule based on commercial other considerations.

"We look forward to applying Intrexon's competencies to the development of a series of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of infectious diseases that take a tremendous worldwide toll on human life," Synthetic Biologics' CEO Jeffrey Riley said in a statement, "and to disclosing more about our discovery targets in the near future."

The beauty of the deal for Intrexon is that Synthetic Biologics can focus on advancing the antibodies through clinical trials as the startup continues to build on its mission of using industry-scale synthetic biology to transform the way drugs are discovered and developed--and areas where Kirk and other investors in the operation have bet on heavily to deliver the most value. The companies plan to discuss the partnership on a conference call later today at 5 p.m. ET.

- here's the release

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