ValiRx: Bioscience Innovation




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Video title: ValiRx: Bioscience Innovation
Released on: June 24, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
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In this interview, filmed during BioEurope 2008 in Madrid, Fintan Walton speaks with Satu Vainikka, CEO of ValiRx, an AIM listed biopharmaceutical company based in the UK. Focusing on epigenetics, ValiRx is developing novel technologies and products in oncology therapeutics and diagnostics. They act as a "mother" company to the two companies they have developed to concentrate on these separate goals: Cronos, focusing on cancer therapeutics; and ValiBIO, which focuses on cancer diagnostics. Within these companies, ValiRx has created unique partnerships with academia that allows them to utilise those distribution channels that have already been created and to provide the institution with revenue from future royalties. As subsequent complementary opportunities are identified by ValiRx, it is feasible that their portfolio of companies will continue to grow as they capitalise on their experience in transferring technologies and products into the commercial arena.
ValiRx's role and key focus.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures Business Review here live in Madrid. On this show I have Satu Vainikka, who is the CEO of ValiRx which is an AIM listed company based in the UK, welcome to the show.
Satu Vainikka:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Satu, you were formerly the CEO of Cronos which was a company based in the UK still is.
Satu Vainikka:
Still is.
Fintan Walton:
And it's now part of the company called ValiRx and you are the CEO of that company it's an AIM listed company. What is the role of ValiRx? What are your what's your key focus as a biotechnology company?
Satu Vainikka:
ValiRx as a mother company if you like, a mother company have two divisions or subsidiaries one called Cronos created 2004 is focusing on cancertherapeutics, the other division ValiBIO which was created last July is focusing on cancerdiagnostics. The technologies behind two companies are complementary and work with each other, but we realize that they have slightly different business model and decent profile and therefore we decided to split them into two units, those into two unit.
Focus on epigenetics.
Fintan Walton:
Right. The other component when I look at ValiRx is the you're focused on epigenetics as a technology or as a science that can be applied to both diagnostics and therapeutics, why epigenetics?
Satu Vainikka:
Epigenetics is relatively new science. And this is based on human genome project which was published couple of years back and recently allows that genes are just string of letters and the importance actually lies in which way the genes are switched on and off. And it is become quite clear recently that this mechanisms which in on and off of genes is the key for several diseases such as cancer. And therefore it is very important to focus on that particular topic if you like.
Cronos's GeneICE technology
Fintan Walton:
Right. So going back to the therapeutic side the and that's really the Cronos side of the business?
Satu Vainikka:
Yes Cronos it is.
Fintan Walton:
You've developed this technology I suppose you call it called GeneICE tell us how that actually works and its relevance?
Satu Vainikka:
GeneICE stands for Gene Inactivation by Chromatin Engineering and what we have developed is a small molecule or actually family of small molecules where you can target the specific gene, predetermined gene with a first part of the molecule. And the second part binds and recruits a molecule called histone deacetylase, histone deacetylase deacetylase histones and condenses the chromatin around the gene in question and therefore the gene is inactivated and can't function anymore or can't function anyway.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So some companies are actually developing inhibitors to deacetylase, your approach is different?
Satu Vainikka:
It's very different, we actually use histone deacetylase mechanism to inactivate the genes we do not touch the histone deacetylase mechanism as such, we just use it for our own purposes which is more similar to antisense or siRNA.
ValiBIO's partnership with Institute of Pathology and Genetics, Belgium.
Fintan Walton:
Lets just switch over ourselves to ValiBIO, because ValiBIO is based in Belgium?
Satu Vainikka:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
And it's a company that you acquired over a year ago is that correct?
Satu Vainikka:
We actually created.
Fintan Walton:
Alright, okay.
Satu Vainikka:
ValiBIO is a partnership between ValiRxCronos and an institute in Belgium called Institute of Pathology and Genetics.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Satu Vainikka:
It's that institute is one of the biggest in Europe, definitely biggest in Belgium I believe doing traditional cancerdiagnostics or pathology and genetics and that sort of thing. We met up with them about a year ago and they are very interested in developing these next generation oncologydiagnostic technologies together with us, so that was a very good partnership.
Fintan Walton:
So we were saying, we were talking about this a little bit earlier you've got actual labs, you've got people working in ValiBIO?
Satu Vainikka:
Yes we have in Belgium.
Fintan Walton:
In Belgium now you've also on the diagnostic side have pretty short-term commercial ideas?
Satu Vainikka:
Yes we do.
Fintan Walton:
You are looking to launch and products into the market probably again this year?
Satu Vainikka:
Early next year.
Fintan Walton:
Early 2009.
Satu Vainikka:
Yeah that's correct.
Fintan Walton:
So how you going to do that from a commercial perspective?
Satu Vainikka:
As I said we are working together with this big institute and they have distribution channels they have their preferred suppliers for manufacturing et cetera, et cetera so we don't have to reinvent the wheel in that sense. And therefore this particular partnership becomes more and more important.
Products for inlicensing.
Fintan Walton:
When it comes to the commercialization of products within the diagnostic side which is ValiBIO of course you have strategy of both developing your own product but you also in licensing of products as well, so tell us a little bit about the products you've started to in license?
Satu Vainikka:
We have actually acquired European distribution rights for HPV diagnosis kitHuman Papilloma Virus diagnosis kit [PharmaDeals ID = 31868] and this has been done together with the US company and we hope to start generating revenues early next year for that.
Collaboration with Cancer Research Technologies on therapeutic side.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So clearly then you've got you are looking to bring in revenues into your company through both in licensing activities, but the core aspects of your business is still in this epigenetic, epigenetics focus that you've got, so going back to the therapeutic side I understand that the lot of the research that's going on is with other institutions, you want to tell us a little bit about those collaborations which you have with other organizations in the London area?
Satu Vainikka:
Yes, well quite simply we are doing our preclinical together with Cancer Research Technologies, Cancer Research Technologies [PharmaDeals ID = 23814] [PharmaDeals ID = 30749] being commercial arm of Cancer Research UK and we have a long history with Cancer Research UK for this particular type of product and we are also doing some research with Imperial College because the technology originates from the college so they have a ongoing interest in that area.
Fintan Walton:
So you've got a number of compounds making the way through preclinical testing is that correct?
Satu Vainikka:
That's right, yeah.
Fund raisings.
Fintan Walton:
Now as we've already said you are an AIM listed company, you're floated in the London Stock Exchange and the Alternative Investment Market, is not easy days and this is this being April 2008 for anybody on those markets but you've just started to raise additional money both from an existing investors as well as new investors?
Satu Vainikka:
That's correct.
Fintan Walton:
Could you tell us about how that is progressing?
Satu Vainikka:
It's been progressing really well since we completed that fund raising yesterday and today there was a press release out explaining how much and what we going to do with the money assigned all those sort of thing. But as you correctly said it's been very interesting ride´┐Ż
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Satu Vainikka:
To raise the money at the moment.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah it is tough for biotechnology companies to do so particularly for AIM floated and you've got your valuation out there in the public domain, but in the end to raise this sort of money what was the purpose clearly to continue commercialization and development of the products that you've got or where you going to focus that money?
Satu Vainikka:
Well on diagnostic side as said we hope to get to the point where we actually generate revenues early next year. And on the therapeutic side we hope to get first compounds ready again did the Phase I those clinical trials human clinical trials so that's where the money is going to be spent.
Looking for partnerships.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now clearly you know your company is an interesting one because you've not only obviously floated on AIM and so forth and equally you are entrepreneur in the sense you happy to create new entities like ValiBIO, are you still going to be involved in creating new entities are you just going to continue now focusing on these two divisions that you've creating within ValiRx?
Satu Vainikka:
That of course remains to be seen but I am quiet entrepreneurial actually so if there is a good opportunity we will definitely have a very good look at it.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So you are here at BioEurope we are based in Madrid at the moment in these interviews, what was the purpose of coming to BioEurope?
Satu Vainikka:
Well there are couple of people here we want to see and also what we want to do at the moment with ValiRx is to raise profile tell people what we are doing and look for future partnerships in those areas.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Well Satu, it's good to see that ValiRx is doing well.
Satu Vainikka:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Congratulations and thanks for coming on the show.
Satu Vainikka:
Thank you very much.
Satu Vainikka
Chief Executive Officer
Satu Vainikka is a biotechnology entrepreneur with extensive experience in the biotechnology industry, technology commercialization, equity financing, and business management. Prior to her current role as a CEO of ValiRx, she was a founder, director and CEO of Cronos. Originally trained as a PhD molecular biologist/molecular geneticist, she adds the experience of eight years of research in molecular oncology and an MBA to her wealth of knowledge. Her previous roles include founder and executive director of biotech companies, and consultancy roles in healthcare technology commercialization, and entrepreneurship. In her past roles, Dr Vainikka has successfully developed business strategies, negotiated corporate and academic transactions, and raised funding for companies.
ValiRx
ValiRx Plc is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel technologies and products in oncologytherapeutics and diagnostics. The product focus is in the epigenomic analysis and treatment of cancer, but the technologies can be applied to other fields as well, such as neurology and inflammatory diseases. ValiRx Plc listed on AIM in October 2006. ValiRx is creating a portfolio of innovative products through investment in specific development projects. ValiRx actively manages projects within this portfolio as a trading company and is not an investment vehicle. The diversity of projects that ValiRx is undertaking spreads the investment risk. Moreover, the business model minimizes the level of financial exposure associated with R&D since the bulk of the costs are borne by its academic partners in return for a royalty payment or, in the case of a commercial partner, an exclusive licensing agreement from which ValiRx derives revenue in the form of milestone and royalty payments. At this time, there are two portfolio companies, Cronos Therapeutics Ltd (www.cronostherapeutics.com) and ValiBIO SA (www.valibio.com).