13, 2003--A Tennessee firm will develop and commercialize
a recent Pharmacia Corp. drug patent donation to Western
and the firm will join the growing cluster of life science
companies to open research facilities in Kalamazoo.
of Brentwood, Tenn., has been awarded exclusive worldwide
rights to a portfolio of patents for the drug Xemilofiban
(ZEHM-ih-loe-feye-ban) through a licensing agreement with
WMU. The firm was recruited for the work by Kalamazoo economic
development agency, Southwest Michigan First, which also
has recruited VDDI to open a research facility later this
year in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
donation to the University was announced in January. VDDI
is expected to do development work on the drug, conduct
clinical trials in Ireland if such trials are needed and
eventually commercialize the drug for use in the treatment
cardiac patients. WMU will enjoy royalties from any profits
that result from the drug's successful commercialization.
made this gift as a way to benefit both the University and
the Kalamazoo community," says Dr. Daniel M. Litynski,
WMU interim president. "With Southwest Michigan First
and WMU's research office working in tandem, the project
will serve as an example of how to harness technology transfer
as an important economic development tool. This is a model
that we want to repeat often."
VDDI will develop
Xemilofiban through its global network of resources, which
includes offices in Dublin, Ireland, for its European clinical
development program; planned new facilities in the Southwest
Michigan Innovation Center for project management,
regulatory affairs, research and development; and its new
headquarters in the Cool Springs Life Sciences Center of
Brentwood, Tenn. The firm also has offices in Connecticut,
Florida and in Bangkok, Thailand.
of Xemilofiban represents a rare opportunity for VDDI to
establish itself as a premier Midwestern pharmaceutical
company with a global reach," says Dr. Stephen Porter,
VDDI president and chief executive officer. "This development
perfectly into our business model that calls for strategic
outsourcing and maximum leveraging of our human and financial
In addition to
the Xemilofiban work in Kalamazoo, Porter says his firm
also will launch a research initiative locally and in Ulster,
Northern Ireland that will focus on medical peptides.
VDDI and the
University of Ulster, based in Northern Ireland, have agreed
to commercialize of leading edge medical peptide research
at the University. The University of Ulster is the leading
university in the UK for biomedical sciences research and
has been at the forefront of positioning Northern Ireland
as a center of excellence for the biotechnology industry.
Kalamazoo work force is projected to include seven research
specialists. Porter says he will launch the local operation
during the second quarter of 2003.
is the result of Kalamazoo's new focus on technology transfer,
says Barry Broome, Southwest Michigan First's executive
director and chief operating officer, who is an advocate
of a "license-in" approach to fostering scientific
growth in the
universities and companies develop technology through basic
research," says Broome, "Our model calls for acquiring
basic research and matching it with companies that can successfully
bring the technology to market."
out that companies, such as large pharmaceutical firms,
often decide against developing a product because the eventual
market for the product is too small or because the product
does not fit the company's core business. Southwest Michigan
First, Broome says, is out to mine technology from such
firms, and channel it through WMU. The donating company
will get the benefit of a tax write-off for the gift, and
WMU will receive a technology asset that can be used to
either attract a firm to develop the product through a licensing
agreement or promote academic research if the product is
developed within the University.
the drug VDDI will develop through the WMU license, is an
oral compound that shows promise in preventing heart attacks
and other cardiovascular damage due to clotting during such
treatments as angioplasty and the placement of stents. Similar
products used for the same purpose are given intravenously,
giving Xemilofiban an
obvious advantage over what is currently on the market.
The drug's intravenous competitors have combined annual
revenues of about $1 billion.
undergone Phase III clinical trials involving more than
7,000 patients in the United States before development work
was discontinued. Porter says his company has recast the
clinical and regulatory development program with the assistance
multinational advisory group. Using a restructured dosing
scheme and narrowed patient selection, Porter says that
recent input from a VDD sponsored focus group, at the American
Heart Association meeting suggested that Xemilofiban could
be commercialized without additional clinical trials. However,
if that strategy fails then successful completion of an
additional Phase III trial, drug could then introduce the
product for sale in about two years. He estimates the annual
global market to include more than 2 million patients.
technology will contribute to public health as it will be
developed into a drug that will treat life-threatening cardiovascular
diseases with a significant pharmoeconomic advantage and
allow us to address a large, unmet medical need in Europe,
Canada and Australia," Porter says.
on pharmaceutical products primarily for the treatment of
cancer, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases.
The firm specializes in developing products that have already
shown promise in pre-clinical or human testing, and projects
in which the products are novel and offer significant potential
advantages to products
already on the market or in development.
of VDDI for the project grew out of a series of investment
meetings - Investing In Innovation Forums put on by Southwest
Michigan First and ARCH Development Partners, a venture
capital firm. The forums are designed to match investors
with companies that have promising technology.
says he was attracted by support from the local community
and the Kalamazoo area's storied history in pharmaceutical
development that has left the area with a wealth of drug
and regulatory talent is hard to come by," Porter
notes. "They're usual content with their existing environment
not want to be uprooted."
WMU,Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8412
Southwest Michigan First, Kel Lee Chin, (269) 553-9588