Billionaire Kirk orchestrates $45M cell therapy tie-up in biotech deal spree

Biotech billionaire RJ Kirk has hitched another therapeutic developer to his synthetic biology wagon at Intrexon. This time it's Fibrocell Science, an Exton, PA-based developer with a personalized cell therapy for "aesthetic dermatology" on the market.

In a classic Kirk deal, one of the biotech pioneer's funds at Third Security is spearheading a $45 million investment in Fibrocell while simultaneously executing a technology pact that provides Fibrocell with access to Intrexon's growing suite of skills involving cellular function. Fibrocell is handing over $3.3 million in stock as an upfront payment for the deal, which is intended to team the two companies on next-gen therapeutic fibroblasts and dermal cells. And Intrexon, which gets two board seats with the deal, will gain royalties from any products that come out of the pact.

Kirk, who earned a fortune from the sale of New River and Clinical Data, doesn't focus on traditional technology deals that can earn some non-dilutive cash. He invests heavily in relationships after hand picking companies he wants to partner with. And he believes that Intrexon--a 2011 Fierce 15 company--has the kind of game-changing technology that can blow up the old, expensive and time-consuming model for drug development.

Fibrocell has a product on the market called Laviv, which is used to erase wrinkles--a classic dermatology target in the beauty market. And Kirk believes that the deal gives Fibrocell a better shot at marketing the drug while coming up with new uses by treating scarring from burns and acne.

"Through access to Intrexon's technology and the ability to innovate on top of an established and approved platform, such that even early experiments may be conducted within a GMP operating system, we expect the company to establish a leadership role in creating additional high-value cellular therapeutics for underserved health needs," said Kirk in a statement.

Intrexon has been wheeling and dealing on the collaboration front. After striking a cancer drug pact with Ziopharm he bought the antibody company Immunologix and partnered with Adeona, Oragenics, BioLife Cell Bank and Synthetic Biologics, all in the past year.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Intrexon - 2011 Fierce 15

Suggested Articles

Fifteen of the 22 patients in a gene therapy trial no longer needed transfusions, while the remainder needed fewer transfusions.

Argos Therapeutics is ending its kidney cancer trial and mulling options, including a merger or sale, to stay alive.

CNS Pharma says berubicin is the first anthracycline drug to cross the blood-brain barrier and could transform treatment of the highly invasive brain tumor.