Category: Bioscience

PanTheryx adds nearly $3 million to funding round

BOULDER – Biotechnology company PanTheryx Inc. is nearing the three-quarter mark in its effort to raise $10 million, according to a recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Boulder-based PanTheryx has raised $7.3 million of the round that began in April 2013 through equity investments and issuing warrants and options. PanTheryx reported it had raised $4.4 million of its goal in March of last year.

PanTheryx, headed by president and chief executive Mark Braman, is working on medical nutrition products, including a treatment for children with infectious diarrhea that has shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective in replenishing nutrients lost during a bout with the disease.

The company also is working on foods as dietary supplements to help healthy people maintain intestinal health, and medical foods for dietary management that would be used under medical supervision.

Diarrhea, the company said, is a life-threatening global health concern, representing 11 percent of child deaths worldwide, second only to pneumonia. The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide there are 1.7 billion infectious diarrhea cases annually among children younger than age 5. Nearly 1 million children die each year from diarrhea complications, killing more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

In addition to Braman, Scott Hyman and George Stagnitti are listed as executive officers of the company. Tom Washing and David Cook are listed as company directors. Washing is a partner at Sequel Venture Partners LLC, a venture capital firm in Boulder. Cook is a retired lawyer from the local office of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. He received the Esprit Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boulder Chamber in 2005.

Boulder biopharma luring array of investment

BOULDER — The renewed investor interest seen in Array Biopharma Inc. over the last seven weeks might be just the beginning if analyst projections prove correct.

A month and a half after announcing a deal to regain full worldwide rights from Novartis to the late-stage cancer drug candidate binimetinib – a deal one analyst termed “transformative” for Array – the Boulder-based company’s shares continue to trade nearly 15 percent ahead of where they closed on Dec. 3.

Shares of Array (Nasdaq: ARRY) rose from $3.91 at the end of trading Dec. 3 to $4.93 in the days after the announcement. They’ve cooled a bit since, closing at $4.49 on Jan. 16. But analysts’ price targets range from $5 to $9, with multiple analysts upgrading the stock in the wake of the deal.

Piper Jaffray biotech analyst Ted Tenthoff rates the stock overweight, with a price target of $9. Binimetinib has the potential to treat multiple types of cancer. But in just one type of melanoma – for which binimetinib could gain Food and Drug Administration approval by sometime in 2016 – Tenthoff believes the market potential could be $200 million.

“It’s just a fantastic deal in my view for Array,” Tenthoff said.

In addition to regaining full rights to binimetinib, the deal generating the buzz will see Array receiving payment of up to $85 million from Novartis, not to mention an extinguishment of $15 million in payments Array owed Novartis for development costs. Novartis also will continue to reimburse Array for the clinical trials necessary to get binimetinib to market.

Under the previous deal, signed in 2010, Array had received $40 million up front from Novartis plus milestones of $20 million. Total milestones were to top $400 million, with royalties on top of that. But Array officials believe they’ll be able to market the drug on their own once approved, meaning large potential for additional annual revenue.

The new deal comes in the wake of Novartis’ acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline oncology products that included a binimetinib competitor, Mekinist. Novartis had to sell off some of its assets that could have prevented the deal with GSK from gaining regulatory approval. Array’s deal for binimetinib will become official upon closing of the Novartis/GSK deal, which is slated for the first half of this year.

“It’s an excellent deal for Array, no doubt,” Array chief executive Ron Squarer said.

Binimetinib is a MEK inhibitor, targeting a key enzyme on a critical pathway that drives several types of cancer.

The drug is undergoing Phase 3 trials for the treatment of NRAS melanoma, BRAF melanoma and low-grade serous ovarian cancer. BRAF melanoma, for which Mekinist already is on the market, accounts for about 40 percent of all melanoma cases. But NRAS melanoma – the potential $200 million market noted by Tenthoff – accounts for about 20 percent of melanoma cases, and binimetinib would likely be the first MEK inhibitor to market for treatment of the disease, helping drive much of the excitement around Array’s new deal.

Array shares, trading at $5.23 on March 18 last year, slid steeply to $3.74 by April 14. Tenthoff said much of that drop had to do with market conditions and the decline of a key Nasdaq biotech index. The Novartis/GSK deal was announced on April 22, leading to some uncertainty over the next few months about what would happen to binimetinib and Array’s stake in it. The company’s stock closed at $3.03 per share as recently as Oct. 3 before the rebound.

“We think that as we move forward, especially in clarity, we think there’s potential for more appreciation of the company,” Squarer said.

Founded in 1998, Array has received most of its revenue from a number of collaborations with other pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

The company has two wholly owned drugs in clinical development, including one for multiple myeloma and another for a rare cardiovascular disease. Including binimetinib, Array has partnerships involving 11 more clinical-stage programs, mostly cancer drugs. Selumetinib, another MEK inhibitor being developed with AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), is also in stage 3 clinical trials, looking at treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer, melanoma of the eye and thyroid cancer. The lung cancer application, Tenthoff said, could be the largest market opportunity of all of the MEK inhibitors.

Array employs about 200 people, mostly at offices in Boulder and Longmont. Tricia Haugeto, Array’s director of corporate communications and investor relations, said it won’t be clear how many employees might be added in the wake of the binimetinib deal until after the deal is closed. She also stopped short of making any revenue projections for the drug, although Tenthoff’s view of the market for NRAS melanoma suggests such a number could be quite large.

“We’ll just have to see where it comes out,” Tenthoff said. “But for a small company like Array, it’s a pretty nice revenue potential.”

In addition to the $85 million coming Array’s way in the binimetinib deal, the company also recently announced a licensing deal with Seattle-based Oncothyreon Inc. (Nasdaq: ONTY) to develop and commercialize breast cancer drug ONT-380. That deal brings with it an upfront payment of $20 million.

A $105 million cash infusion is significant for a company such as Array, which finished the fiscal quarter ending Sept. 30 with $47 million in cash and cash equivalents. The company reported $42 million in revenue and an $85.3 million net loss for fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30. That followed $69.6 million in revenue and a $61.9 million net loss in 2013.

Companies to watch in 2015

Some companies are bracing for substantial growth, while others face challenges that could make or break their futures. Either way, these businesses in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado are worth keeping an eye on this year.

By BizWest Staff

AEROSPACE

Sierra Nevada Corp.

NASA’s decision in September to award the next round of its commercial crew program contracts to Boeing and SpaceX created plenty of uncertainty around SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is being developed at the company’s Space Systems division in Louisville. The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Jan. 5 rejected SNC’s appeal of the combined $6.8 billion award. But the company also is vying to be part of about $14 billion in work to be awarded in NASA’s next round of contracts to carry cargo to the International Space Station. Getting a piece of those awards could be a savior for Dream Chaser in the short term as SNC works to market the vehicle to other countries that might not have the infrastructure to send their own astronauts and science into space.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, having launched into low-Earth orbit on April 24, 1990. Ball built one of the original Hubble instruments and also developed corrective optics for the observatory in 1993. NASA’s Kepler K-2 mission, which uses a spacecraft built by Ball, continues to search for Earth-like planets in outer space. But perhaps the most anticipated event for the company this year is the New Horizons encounter with Pluto in July. Along with Boulder’s Southwest Research Institute, Ball helped develop one of the instruments aboard the NASA mission that finally will relay up-close observations of Pluto after launching on its 3 billion-mile journey in 2006.  This all comes while Ball continues to build the Joint Polar Satellite System, a polar-orbiting weather satellite being built for NASA and NOAA and slated for launch in 2017.

BANKING

Advantage Bank

Advantage Bank, with branches in Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley, has had two tumultuous years, and 2015 could be the make-or-break year for the community bank.

Officials of Advantage Bancorp have been tight-lipped about the health of the bank that has been, at times, under watch by federal regulators because of a low capital level – a key metric in determining the health of a bank. It also has had to survive a shareholder foreclosing on a $2 million note, and an auction to sell the bank that was called off at the last moment when one of two bidders walked away rather than fight a lawsuit over the auction.

Elevations Credit Union

The Boulder-based credit union, a recent winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award that acknowledges performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership, is on a roll and expanding. Where it will end up in 2015 bears watching. It opened its first branch in Fort Collins in November and one in Louisville earlier in the year, bringing its total to 12 in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Adams counties. Elevations, led by president and chief executive Gerry Agnes, has plans to open more branches in 2015, including another in Fort Collins. The credit union was founded in Boulder in 1952 with less than $100 in assets and has grown to become a $1.3 billion institution.

BIOSCIENCE

Corgenix Medical Corp.

Broomfield-based Corgenix (OTCQB: CONX.OB) caught attention in 2014 for its development of a rapid diagnostic test kit for the Ebola virus as the illness ravaged parts of Africa. But bigger developments could be coming on that front. In June, the company received a three-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help speed the development of the kits. In December, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awarded the company grants totaling $818,000 to help fund a clinical trial in Africa. The company has said its roughly 50 employees will remain in Broomfield after the acquisition by Germany-based Orgentec Diagnostika, which was announced in August.

Hach Co.

Loveland-based Hach already employs about 1,000 people in the city but could be growing that figure significantly if work begins this year on a planned $25 million expansion of its facility. Hach manufactures instruments and reagents for testing water quality and other liquids, and has been awarded major incentives to locate its new research and development facility in Loveland rather than elsewhere. Last fall, the city of Loveland and Larimer County put together a $1 million incentive package toward the effort. The Colorado Economic Development Commission, meanwhile, awarded $2 million contingent upon the company adding 204 new jobs at the site.

ENERGY

Synergy Resources Corp.

Shares of Synergy (NYSE MKT: SYRG) have stayed afloat despite a downturn in oil prices this year. Shares have dropped less than 15 percent since a 52-week high of $14.11 was reached in June, while other companies’ stocks have lost half of their value during the same period. Synergy has ridden an oil boom that set a statewide record of 64.1 million barrels in 2013 and plans at least $200 million in capital spending next year. Unlike other oil companies in the region, Synergy, whose 2015 fiscal year began Sept. 1, has no plans to change its capital-spending levels, said Jon Kruljac, vice president for capital markets and investor relations. Synergy has 56,600 net acres in the Greater Wattenberg Area, with a total of 1,737 drilling locations in the region.

NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC

NGL has been thrust into the spotlight after a state government investigation linked the company’s injection well to earthquakes that occurred near the Greeley airport in the summer of 2014. The company had used the well to dispose of millions of gallons of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The state is investigating whether NGL violated the terms of its disposal permit. Meanwhile, NGL has asked to boost by 20 percent the amount of water it can inject underground, despite ongoing low-level quake activity captured by a new state monitoring program. State regulators have not made a decision on NGL’s request, said state oil commission Director Matt Lepore.

HEATLH CARE

Centura Health

Englewood-based Centura has emerged as a player in Northern Colorado’s and Boulder Valley’s health-care industry with a recently announced affiliation with Longmont United Hospital, adding to the region’s competitive medical landscape. Centura has 16 hospitals, including Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville; and six senior-living communities. It also has opened wellness centers in Dacono, Westminster and Thornton. Centura will join a growing cadre of health-care providers when it stops hiring tobacco users next year.

DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. 

DaVita (NYSE: DVA) in Denver paid a $389 million settlement to the U.S. Justice Department in a whistleblower lawsuit that accused the company of violating the False Claims Act. The company paid illegal kickbacks to physicians who referred patients to dialysis centers in Longmont and Boulder in which physicians had an ownership stake. DaVita, whose stock steadily crept above $75 in December from $60 a year ago, also faces other whistleblower lawsuits in federal courts in Atlanta and Texas. The lawsuits allege that DaVita defrauded taxpayers when the company pursued reimbursement for overused dialysis medications.

NATURAL AND ORGANIC PRODUCTS

Noosa Yoghurt LLC

Bellvue-based Noosa should wrap up a major expansion at its headquarters early this year as the five-year-old company continues to boom. Boston-based investment firm Advent International purchased a majority stake in Noosa in the fall, which should only amplify the growth. “I look for them to double or triple their sales over the next few years and be the next big thing,” said Bill Capsalis, president of the board for Naturally Boulder, a trade group devoted to the natural and organic food industry in Boulder and along the Front Range. Of course, 2015 won’t come without some hurdles for Noosa. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage recently announced that it would be dropping Noosa’s products from its store shelves as it adopts stricter requirements for its dairy suppliers.

WhiteWave Foods Co.

While Noosa is making waves as an up-and-comer, Capsalis said he believes WhiteWave (NYSE: WWAV) could become an acquisition target for a large food company as the Broomfield-based operation continues to grow and make key acquisitions of its own. Revenue hit $857 million in the third quarter of 2014, up 34 percent from the previous year. “They just have a lot of reach in the sort of nonconventional dairy shelf right now,” Capsalis said. “I think that is something some of the bigger food companies are paying attention to all of a sudden.”

REAL ESTATE

McWhinney

Loveland-based real estate developer McWhinney is entering 2015 with a pile of plans stacked high on its drawing board. McWhinney, headed by brothers Chad and Troy McWhinney, will be partnering on several high-profile projects including a hotel in downtown Fort Collins, a redevelopment of Denver’s historic Windsor Dairy Block and a 250-apartment project in its 935-acre North Park development in Broomfield. McWhinney and Sage Hospitality, with financial support from local investors, including Bohemian Cos., will build the 85,000-square-foot hotel at the former Armadillo restaurant site on Walnut Street in Fort Collins. In Denver, it will team with Sage Hospitality to develop Z Block, located on Wazee Street between 18th and 19th streets, that will have office and retail space, plus a hotel. In Broomfield, North Park will continue to grow with housing adding to its retail and medical space.

Markel Homes

The Boulder-based homebuilder is poised to make good on plans to oversee the building of nearly 600 homes on 126 acres at West Grange, one of the largest new residential developments in southwest Longmont. Located on the southeast corner of Nelson Road and 75th Street, West Grange backs up to hundreds of acres of Boulder County open space. Current plans call for about a 50/50 mix of single-family and multifamily homes. The first of four planned phases for the project, 90 single-family and duplex homes, will be built on 28 acres. Markel is partnering with Phoenix-based Meritage Homes, which has been active in the Northern Colorado region.

TECHNOLOGY

LogRhythm Inc.

Bandwidth infrastructure provider Zayo Group LLC was the area’s budding star ripe for an initial public offering when 2014 began, and made good on those expectations with a successful IPO in October. For 2015, Boulder IT security firm LogRhythm could fill that role. As cyber-security breaches become commonplace, LogRhythm’s software platform helps businesses detect and respond to such threats more quickly and accurately. “I think enterprise software security continues to accelerate,” Colorado Technology Association president Erik Mitisek said. LogRhythm pulled in a $40 million funding round in July, and CEO Andy Grolnick has said he expects that to be the company’s last round before an IPO.

Decibullz LLC

Loveland-based startup Decibullz has been riding a fast track to growth seemingly since its inception in 2012, with no signs of slowing down in 2015. The company makes custom molded earphones designed to stay in place during physical activity. Decibullz, founded by gymnastics coach Kyle Kirkpatrick, won the $250,000 top prize at the Colorado State University Blue Ocean Enterprise Challenge. That money reportedly is being used to develop and patent a multitude of new products, including higher-end and Bluetooth-compatible models that could hit the market this year.

AntriaBio raises $7 million to work on insulin

LOUISVILLE – Biopharmaceutical startup AntriaBio Inc. (OTCQB: ANTB) this week announced that it has raised $7 million in a private placement offering of its stock.

For $1.85 per unit, institutions and accredited investors received one share of common stock and one warrant exercisable for three years at $2.50 for one share of common stock.

The company’s stock was trading at $1.35 Tuesday.

AntriaBio set up shop in a 27,000-square-foot space in Louisville early last year in hopes of resurrecting a basal insulin product that originally was being developed by shuttered Fort Collins-based PR Pharmaceuticals Inc.

AntriaBio’s lead product candidate is AB101, a once-a-week basal insulin for the treatment of Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. The slow, steady release of insulin that would enable the once-a-week dosage to provide a major change from similar products on the market today that are taken once or twice daily.

The $7 million private placement follows an $11 million private placement last year. Officials said the new funding will be used for general corporate purposes, including building out their facility and initiating the first human clinical studies for AB101.

“The confidence that our investors have shown in us is a testament to our extended release platform and the potential of AB101 to transform the $10 billion basal insulin market,” AntriaBio’s chief executive Nevan Elam said in a statement.

AntriaBio purchased the intellectual property and assets of PR Pharmaceuticals in 2013 after that company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008 and eventually went out of business. AntriaBio made the acquisition for an upfront payment and an obligation to make contingent milestone payments. But in November, AntriaBio cleared a major hurdle by extinguishing the $44 million in contingent milestone payments owed to the bankruptcy estate of PR Pharmaceuticals for $55,000 in a deal approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Colorado.

The securities sold in the most recent financing have not been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and can’t be offered or sold in the United States without registration or an exemption. But AntriaBio officials said the company has agreed to file a resale registration statement with the SEC within 90 days of the financing closing “for the purpose of registering the resale of the shares of common stock issued or issuable in connection with the financing.”

Array BioPharma cashes in on deal with Oncothyreon

BOULDER – A new deal with a Seattle pharmaceutical company will bring Boulder-based Array Biopharma Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRY) $20 million up front and the potential for significant milestone and royalty payments related to the breast cancer drug ONT-380.

Array has granted Oncothyreon Inc. (Nasdaq: ONTY) exclusive license to develop, manufacture and commercialize the drug, replacing a previous agreement between the two companies in which they were jointly developing ONT-380.

ONT-380, invented at Array, has so far shown positive results in patients with advanced metastatic breast cancer. The drug, going through Phase 1 trials now, is in the earlier stages of development and could be several years away from commercialization.

As part of the new deal, Oncothyreon will pay Array the upfront fee of $20 million, and the deal could play out in a variety of ways from there.

If Oncothyreon commercializes the drug, Array would have the potential for double-digit royalties on sales. If Oncothyreon sublicenses ONT-380 to another company, Array would receive a percentage of Oncothyreon’s payments from the sublicensing deal. If Oncothyreon is acquired by another company within three years, Array would be eligible for up to $280 million in commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on sales.

Array’s stock price has increased significantly in recent days upon news that it was receiving full rights to the melanoma and ovarian cancer drug binimetinib back from Novartis. Its share price remained steady Friday. Shares were trading at $4.92 by mid-afternoon, up 2 cents from Thursday’s close.

CEO of bioscience nonprofit CID4 to step down

AURORA – Kevin M. Smith will step down from his position as president and chief executive of the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development, also known as CID4, on Dec. 31.

The nonprofit bioscience charity has formed a search committee to find a new CEO, CID4 board Chairman Steve Orndorff said. Smith will be available through February to assist during the transition.

“With the ongoing changes in the healthcare and life science sectors, CID4 is revisiting how it can best support our industry,” Orndorff said.

Smith was part of a group that established CID4 in 2009. He previously worked as president of Gambro Inc., the U.S. holding company for Gambro AB, a Swedish medical device and health care services company.

CID4 says it has invested about $3 million into nine early stage companies that have created 85 jobs and raised an additional $30 million.

Array BioPharma revenue down, loss up in 1Q

BOULDER — Cancer-drug research firm Array BioPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRY) on Tuesday reported decreased revenue and an increased loss for the  first quarter of its fiscal year 2015 that ended Sept. 30.

Boulder-based Array reported that revenue for the quarter was $6.1 million, a 57 percent decrease compared with $14.2 million for the same period a year earlier.

Array reported that the decline in revenue was due to the full recognition in prior periods of up-front license fees, according to a prepared statement.

Array reported a net loss of $27.6 million, or 21 cents per share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2015, compared with a net loss of $15.7 million, or 13 cents per share, for the same quarter a year earlier.

Array is advancing in six Phase 3 drug trials and collecting data on two Phase 2 multiple myeloma trials including a randomized combination trial with Kyprolis.

“With the progress we continue to make, Array looks forward to potential commercial revenue within the next two years,” Ron Squarer, Array’s chief executive, said in the statement.

Array’s stock was trading at $3.81 per share Tuesday. It closed at $3.71 per share Monday.

Corgenix Medical reporting loss for first fiscal quarter

BROOMFIELD – Corgenix Medical Corp. (OTC: CONX) on Wednesday reported preliminary results for its first fiscal quarter that ended Sept. 30, noting an expected $700,000 drop in revenue compared with the same period a year ago.

The Broomfield-based diagnostic test kit maker expects a net loss of $770,000 versus a profit of $84,000 for the same quarter last year. The loss came on $2.2 million in revenue, down from $2.9 million last year.

Corgenix is, among other things, developing a 10-minute rapid diagnostic test for Ebola. In August, the company reached a deal to be acquired by Germany-based Orgentec Diagnostika. That deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Corgenix’s share price remained mostly flat Wednesday at about 27 cents.

“The first quarter weakness resulted from a slow down in demand from a major customer for our Aspirin Works product and contract manufactured end products,” Corgenix president and chief executive Doug Simpson said in a prepared statement. “The company also incurred approximately $600,000 in expenses associated with its review of strategic alternatives and definitive agreement to be acquired by Orgentec Diagnostika.”

Corgenix will release its complete financial results on Friday, Nov. 7.

Broomfield firm tops in region for third-quarter VC

BOULDER – Seven firms in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado were among the 17 companies in Colorado that struck venture capital deals during the third quarter.

The 17 deals statewide totaled $167.2 million, up from $163.3 million on 22 deals during the second quarter, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

Companies in the region receiving venture capital in the third quarter were:

Great Lake Pharmaceuticals Inc., Broomfield. $ 11,221,000. It designs products that prevent infections associated with catheters. Investors were Charter Life Sciences and Venture Investors LLC.

Mobile Day, Boulder, $6,577,200. It provides one-touch access into any conference call. Investors were Foundry Group LLC, Google Ventures, Innoventures Capital Partners, SoftBank Capital Partners LP, Softtech VC Inc. Techstars and an undisclosed firm.

Madwire Media LLC, Loveland, $5.5 million. It is an online marketing and design agency. Copley Equity Partners LLC, Equity Partners LLC, and Cypress Growth Capital LLC.

TeraLux Inc., Longmont, $3,103,000. It designs and manufactures light-emitting diode lighting products. Access Venture Partners and Emerald Technology Ventures AG.

Gridcraft Inc., Boulder, $2,289,000. It makes cloud-based software. Confluence Capital Partners, Galvanize Ventures, Tech Stars and an undisclosed firm.

BiOptix Diagnostics Inc., Boulder, $2,054,000. It makes analytical instruments. Boulder Ventures Ltd.

Orbotix Inc., Boulder, $997,000. It makes robotic toys. Highway 12 Ventures.

Cologix Inc. of Denver had the state’s top deal, receiving $36.6 million from an undisclosed source, according to the report. Cologix operates data centers in Columbus, Dallas, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Minneapolis, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $9.9 billion in 1,023 deals during the third quarter. Quarterly investments declined 27 percent in terms of dollars and 9 percent in the number of deals, compared to the second quarter when $13.5 billion was invested in 1,129 deals. The third quarter is the sixth consecutive quarter of more than 1,000 companies receiving venture-capital investments in a single quarter.