Meet RestorGenex, a biotech mosaic from Celgene founder Barer

RestorGenex Chairman Sol Barer

Nearly three years removed from his Celgene ($CELG) retirement, Sol Barer is working to get another biotech off the ground, piecing together four drugmakers into a whole called RestorGenex and setting out to make a difference in dermatology, ocular diseases and women's health.

RestorGenex was born into the shell of Stratus Media Group, a now-defunct California promotions firm traded over the counter. Barer came on board as chairman last fall, just as the company bought up the interrelated Canterbury Laboratories and Hygeia Therapeutics to get its hands on some patent-protected skincare compounds from Yale University. Then, this month, the biotech snagged Paloma Pharmaceuticals and VasculoMedics, absorbing two small-molecule drug development platforms and adopting the RestorGenex moniker.

Now the plan is to roll all of those disparate parts into a focused drug development operation, and Barer has recruited former BioSante chief Stephen Simes to lead the way as CEO. Simes has served stints as CEO of Unimed Pharmaceuticals, now part of AbbVie ($ABBV), and Gynex Pharmaceuticals, which was bought up by Savient.

RestorGenex will operate as a virtual biotech, the company told the Boston Business Journal, retaining about 10 employees and tapping CROs for trial work. The company's most advanced asset is a Phase II-ready treatment for age-related macular degeneration, followed by a Phase I anti-scarring drug and a fleet of preclinical candidates for acne, aging skin, vulvar vaginal atrophy and baldness, according to the company. RestorGenex's specific plans going forward remain a bit murky, and the company didn't respond to a request for an interview Tuesday.

But while it's early days for the California biotech--which lacks accouterments including a website--Barer believes his new outfit has assembled the right talent and technology to make some noise in the industry.

"We are excited to debut RestorGenex as a newly integrated biotechnology company, combining several impressive platforms and technologies to treat patients in a number of indications with unmet medical needs," Barer said in a statement.

After helping found Celgene in 1986, Barer spent 18 years at the company, serving stints as president, COO and CEO as it grew from a newfangled biotech player into a global force in drug development. Since his retirement in 2011, Barer has stayed busy on the boards of outfits like Cerecor, Amicus Therapeutics and Medgenics. Joining Barer on RestorGenex's board is Celgene veteran and longtime biotech investor Isaac Blech, who also plays a role at Cerecor, Medgenics and Edge Therapeutics.

- read the BBJ story