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Merix Bioscience Completes $39.5 Million Private Financing
—Company Strengthens Board of Directors—
Durham, NORTH CAROLINA, September 10, 2001 - Merix Bioscience,
Inc. (Merix) announced today that it has completed a $39.5 million round
of private financing. This second round of funding was co-led by Sofinov
and Techno Venture Management, and included previous and new domestic
and international institutions. Participants in the round included new
investors ABN Amro Ventures B.V., GeneChem Therapeutics Venture Fund,
L.P., Oakwood Medical Investors, Pacific Horizon Partners, Sanders Morris
Harris Inc., SHV Ventures, TFG Venture Capital AG & Co. KgaA.
All previous investors participated as well. Previous investors include Aurora
Funds, BD Ventures (Becton Dickinson), Cordova Ventures, Harbinger/Aurora Ventures,
Intersouth Partners, MDS Capital, and Senmed Medical Ventures. The funds will
be used to advance clinical trials for a cancer vaccine and to expand the powerful
Merix platform for immunostimulation. The Merix platform is based on immunostimulation
of dendritic cells by exposing them to messenger RNA, part of the critical genetic
material of the target to which an immune response is desired.
Concurrent with the private placement, Merix has appointed three new members
to its Board of Directors. The newly appointed members include Luc Marengère,
Partner of Sofinov, Hubert Birner, Principal with TVM and Phil Tracy, Partner
"Both new and existing investors have shown tremendous enthusiasm for the
potential of the Merix immunology platform, specifically for the encouraging
the ongoing investigator-sponsored personalized cancer vaccine clinical trials
at Duke University Medical Center," said Mark Weedon, President and Chief
Executive Officer of Merix Bioscience. "In the next 12-18 months we hope
to initiate and conclude Phase I corporate sponsored clinical trials, and lead
in to Phase II clinical trials in multiple cancer indications."
The financing will be used for the following specific goals of Merix:
- To acquire additional capabilities and intellectual property and to develop programs
in the areas of dendritic cell and antigen loading.
- Completion of a 20,000 square foot cell processing facility to support
upcoming clinical trials.
- To continue to round out the already strong management team.
- To establish a European presence.
- To complete corporate collaborations in addition to the current
Becton Dickinson and Geron collaborations.
- To begin Phase I and Phase II corporate sponsored clinical trials.
Chairman of the Board, Clint (Skip) Dederick, Group Director of Senmed Medical Ventures,
commented, "The Company now has an extensive and resourceful set of US-based
investors, complemented by a strong international presence in Canada and Europe.
This support will give Merix the ability to achieve its aggressive objectives
and begin to establish operations in Europe. I am particularly excited about
the new scientific, financial and business expertise that has been added with
the appointments of Messrs. Marengère, Birner and Tracy to the Board,
as well as our recent additions of key personnel to the management team."
Luc E.J. Marengère, Ph.D., is currently a Partner at CDP Sofinov, a subsidiary
of La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDP). Dr. Marengère's
scientific and academic expertise makes him very well qualified to help Merix
excel. His credentials encompass all areas of immunology, oncology and pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Marengère received his doctorate in Medical Biophysics and Molecular
Genetics from the University of Toronto, as well as a formation in endocrinology
and biochemistry from Queen's University and University of Ottawa, respectively.
He previously worked with AMGEN where he was involved with drug development
in oncology and immunology.
"Merix is an exciting company, with a proprietary and unique capability.
I look forward to working with them on the RNA-loaded DC vaccine technology," commented
Hubert Birner, Ph.D., is a Principal with TVM. Based in Munich, Dr. Birner
also has highly relevant industry and scientific experience. Dr. Birner was
with McKinsey & Company's European Healthcare and Pharmaceutical practice
and AstraZeneca. He holds an MBA from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the Ludwig Maximilians
University in Munich.
"Merix has the vision to recruit world-recognized academic experts, and
the need to establish a significant European presence early on. It is because
of this foresight that we see great potential in Merix," stated Dr. Birner.
Phil Tracy is a Life Sciences Venture Partner with Intersouth Partners. He
has broad experience as a director in the biotechnology sector and currently
on the boards of several life sciences companies. He is the former President
and CEO of Burroughs Wellcome Co., and has served on the boards of the Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers Association and the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers
"As one of the founding investors in Merix, we are extremely pleased with
the substantial progress the Company has made to date, and are very excited about
the potential of Merix's unique technology to successfully treat cancer and
serious diseases," stated Mr. Tracy. "Intersouth is currently the
largest investor in Merix and I look forward to working with the company and
team to help it achieve its full potential."
Merix Bioscience, Inc. is a private immunotherapy company poised to assume
leadership in the large emerging market of cancer vaccines. The Company's proprietary
technology encompasses methods to optimize the preparation of dendritic cells,
methods for the antigen loading (transfection) of dendritic cells, and the
application of the resulting vaccines in the treatment of cancer, chronic infectious
and immune disorders. Merix offers a unique and proprietary ability to produce
a nearly limitless supply of individualized (autologous) vaccine for potentially
every cancer patient, a vaccine created from the body's own dendritic cells
pulsed with amplified messenger RNA (mRNA) from the patient's cancer (RNA-loaded