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RXi Acquires Opko RNAi Assets, Inks Deals to Sell $16.4M in Stock

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RXi Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has agreed to acquire all of Opko Health’s RNAi-related assets in exchange for 50 million shares of its common stock, which is worth about $7 million based on RXi’s current stock price.

In addition, RXi will pay Opko up to $50 million in milestones related to the development of products that incorporate the acquired technology, plus royalties on future product sales.

According to RXi, the deal includes an intellectual property portfolio that includes RNAi molecules against targets such as vascular endothelial growth factor, hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha, intracellular adhesion molecule 1, angiopoietin 2, and complement component 3.

Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Opko made headlines in the RNAi space when it became the first to advance an siRNA drug into phase III testing. That agent, a wet age-related macular degeneration treatment called bevasiranib, was originally developed by Acuity Pharmaceuticals, which later merged with two other companies to become Opko in 2007 (GSN 3/29/2007).

However, Opko halted development of bevasiranib before it completed phase III testing after determining the drug was unlikely to be effective (GSN 3/12/2009). Since that time, Opko has maintained virtually no RNAi activities.

Concurrent with the Opko deal, RXi said that it has entered into agreements to place about 113 million shares of its common stock at $0.145 a share, generating around $16.4 million in gross proceeds.

Among the investors in the private offering are Opko Health and Frost Gamma Investments, a trust controlled by Opko CEO Phillip Frost.

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