iPierian fires top execs, shifts focus

Xconomy's Luke Timmerman has learned the board of hot stem cell start-up iPierian has dismissed much of its senior staff, including CEO Michael Venuti and "executives in charge of finance, business development and legal/intellectual property." Former Arresto Bioscience CEO Peter Van Vlasselaer has been brought on the lead the company; Timmerman notes that no other executives are listed on the company's corporate website.

iPierian was formed in 2009 when two stem cell companies--Pierian and iZumi Bio--agreed to merge. The new company's plan was to focus on commercializing stem cells as drug discovery tools and eventually advance stem cell therapeutic programs. The combined entity has a host of well-known venture backers, including Google, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and GlaxoSmithKline's SR One.

The firm's strategy has been produce lines of induced pluripotent stem cells to build disease models that can be used for screening drugs and other research. Its plans have been to license its technology to Big Pharma companies, but Tno such deals have yet been struck. The company now aims to cut its expenses, reduce the number of programs and hunt for a larger company to purchase the start-up, former CEO John Walker told Timmerman.

- take a look at the Xconomy article

Special Report: iPierian - 2010 Fierce 15