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UPDATE: LSBC Hires Corporate Development Team to Bring in Pharma Partners, Shore Up Finances

NEW YORK, June 20 - Large Scale Biology has expanded its business development team to take advantage of expanding opportunities to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, the company's new senior vice president for corporate development told GenomeWeb. 

Pieter Bax, who joined LSBC this week from SRI International, where he served as vice president for biopharmaceutical development, said that ultimately LSBC hopes to sell products, such as protein chips and vaccines, but that in the short term the company needs steady revenue to keep its burn rate low. During the first quarter of 2001, the company's cash assets decreased from $85 million to $75 million.

"It's the entryway for getting revenue into the company, but eventually we hope to sell products," Bax said.

Pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in LSBC's proteomics and functional genomics platforms, Bax said, and the number of potential partnerships has required the company to devote more than one manager to negotiating agreements. "We're talking to a large number of companies, believe it or not, about our technology," Bax said. "We need about three people including myself. It's just pure quantity of work."

In addition to Bax, Guy della-Cioppa, formerly LSBC's vice president for genomics, will serve as vice president for business development, and Manfred Scholz recently joined the company as senior director for business development.

Prior to his position at SRI International, Bax worked as vice president for business development and product planning at Corvas International, a biotechnology firm based in San Diego.

Della-Cioppa has served as vice president for genomics at LSBC since 1989. During this time, he managed LSBC's business relationship with Dow Chemical and Dow AgroSciences, and in his new business development position, he will focus on establishing similar business alliances, the company said.

Scholz will be located at LSBC's proteomics facility in Germantown, Md. Prior to joining LSBC, he worked at Boston Medical Consultants, where he provided strategic planning and market forecasting for in vitro diagnostics, histopathology, SNP genotyping and other genomics and proteomics companies.

Bax added that before hiring executives devoted specifically to corporate development, LSBC's other managers had to share the responsibilities, a situation that didn't do the company justice. "This is a need that the company has had for some time," he said, "and finally after the IPO they decided to put some muscle behind it."

LSBC Licenses Viral-Based Gene Expression Technology From Plant Bioscience

In a separate development Wednesday, LSBC has licensed viral-derived gene silencing and overexpression technologies from Plant Bioscience, a Norwich, UK-based intellectual property management company. 

LSBC plans to use the technology in conjuction with its Geneware platform for determining gene function via cloning and expression in plants. David Baulcombe, a professor at The Sainsbury Laboratory, also in Norwich, developed the technology along with several colleagues .

LSBC is also licensing gene silencing and enhanced gene expression techniques from Plant Bioscience that were originally developed by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina.

"We see many commercial applications for our technology in agricultural markets and expect this alliance with PBL to accelerate our ability to successfully address many new opportunities," Robert Erwin, LSBC's CEO, said in a statement.

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