CytRx said last week that it has exclusively licensed its phase III sickle cell disease drug Flocor, as well as its OptiVax vaccine delivery technology, to SynthRx, a Houston-based startup firm founded and run by Robert Hunter, a CytRx co-founder and chairman of the University of Texas’ department of pathology and laboratory medicine.
The out-licensing of these assets, leftovers from before CytRx acquired Global Genomics and reorganized under president and CEO Steve Kriegsman, has been a goal of the company for some time.
“We wanted to focus on our RNAi programs, as well as on our DNA vaccine program [in HIV],” Kriegsman told RNAi News, and “we didn’t feel that we had the scientific know-how, nor the desire, to try to reposition Flocor and our OptiVax product.”
While CytRx discussed licensing the technologies with various other parties, Kriegsman said that Hunter, who discovered Flocor while he was with the company, would be the best choice.
“[Hunter] knew the technology better than we would ever know it,” Kriegsman said, adding that “he has the financial wherewithal and the desire to take over the program.”
The deal was signed with SynthRx after more than eight months of negotiations, said Kriegsman. Under the arrangement, CytRx is getting an undisclosed upfront fee, as well as a 19.9 percent stake in SynthRx. CytRx also stands to be paid undisclosed milestones, a single-digit royalty on product sales, and a double-digit royalty on revenues derived from sublicenses to the technology.
Kriegsman also noted that by out-licensing Flocor and OptiVax, CytRx has been relieved of the costs required to maintain the worldwide patents on the technologies, cutting as much as $125,000 to $200,000 off the company’s annual burn rate.