Starpharma’s Nanotechnology




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Video title: Starpharma’s Nanotechnology
Released on: December 23, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
  • Transcript
  • Participants
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Dr Jackie Fairley
CEO
Starpharma

Dr Jackie Fairley, CEO of Starpharma Holdings, discusses the recent deal that the company has signed with SSL International, the Durex® condom manufacturer. Although the company is a platform technology company it is resisting the temptation to diversify and intends to continue to concentrate on the pharmaceutical applications of dendrimers. Dr Fairley explains the reasoning behind their partnering strategies and how the company will see their way through this current economic crisis.
Starpharma Holdings Origin and its Dendritic technology
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business review here in Melbourne, Australia. On this show I have Jackie Fairley, who is the CEO of Starpharma Holdings based here in Melbourne. Welcome to the show.
Jackie Fairley:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Starpharma Holdings is a nanotechnology company developing a range of different types of products in the healthcare field. When was the company founded? it was 10-years ago?
Jackie Fairley:
It was it's founded around 10-years ago on a particular type of technology and then in 2006 we also acquired the balance of the US business that we had an interest in.
Fintan Walton:
Right and still the basis of the business is this Dendritic technology?
Jackie Fairley:
That's correct. All of the products that we have either under development or derive our royalty revenue from, what it called dendrimers which is simply a name given to a synthetic large molecule made up chemically and those molecules have particular characteristics can be tailored very precisely according to the function that we are looking for, so they can be drugs, they can be drug delivery agents, they can be a component in a diagnostic kit. They can also be involved in a whole lot of other industrial and chemical applications through the as a function of their properties.
Fintan Walton:
I mean there a number of companies which are involved in nanotechnology historically and what differentiates you from the rest of those technologies?
Jackie Fairley:
Well nanotechnology is quite an interesting term really. Nanotechnology simply means technology which is of a particular size. And if you think about it that's a rather unusual classification because you don't normally group things according to their size, you group them according to their function or their application and so we don't really view our key competitors as necessarily being other nanotechnology companies or other nanotechnologies for that matter. We really define our competitors on the basis of the markets in which the products are sold. And so we have a series of different competitors be it in the microbe side market or in the condom coating market or in the diagnostics market.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jackie Fairley:
We just happen to use a common technology type to achieve the outcomes that we are looking for in those products.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So would we call you a drug delivery company, would that be a fair way of describing the company?
Jackie Fairley:
Probably no -- in some of our programs are drug delivery but in fact probably the only really all in composing description for Starpharma would be as a company, a platform company. So our platform is dendrimers the synthetic large molecules and that technology can be applied to a range of different products. There is obviously a great deal of leverage in the technology basis the intellectual property basis is common to those things and then we I guess weave in leverage or change the particular dendrimer types according to the function.
Starpharma Holdings deals with SSL International and NIH
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now recently you've just done a [PharmaDeals ID = 32023] deal with SSL which is the manufacturer of Durex Condoms, tell us about that and how that came about?
Jackie Fairley:
So our relationship with Durex was first announced around a year ago and then in September of 2008 we announced a full licensing deal with SSL and that particular opportunity is for what we call a VivaGel coated condoms. So basically what we are doing is one of our dendrimers has very, is very active as an antiviral agent, it inactivates the HIV virus and the genital herpes virus and the human papillomavirus, it's also spermicidal so it also inactivate sperm and so act as contraceptive if you like. That active ingredient is coated on to condoms and the condoms obviously the Durex condoms and then will be marketed by SSL the company that are into the Durex brand around the world and the claims associated with that product would be inactivation of virus and spermicidal activity. And so it's basically a differentiation strategy for condoms or is it really a way of charging a price premium by having a condom which has a functional coating.
Fintan Walton:
Right and would this be a still an OTC type product?
Jackie Fairley:
Correct, yes.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. And you also have your own VivaGel development program, which is I think in Phase IIA?
Jackie Fairley:
That's correct. So we have the same active ingredient which is in the VivaGel coated condom is also being developed as a pharmaceutical agent in that case you have 3.5 grams of a water based gel not to similar to something like a lubricant presented in a vaginal applicators used by woman prior to inter course to allow them to initiate and protect themselves against sexual transmitted diseases.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jackie Fairley:
It also has a contraceptive activity as well, but the primary activity we are looking at there a really in the activation of these viruses and VivaGel has been the subject of a great deal [PharmaDeals ID = 21846] of funding from the National Institutes of Health in the US because the prevention of the spread of those sexual transmitted diseases, HIV and in particular genital herpes as well really has no other alternative apart from abstinence which is not hugely effective or condoms which are not very widely used and so this is an alternative strategy to something like a vaccine because in these diseases vaccines don't work.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now the type of funding that you are getting from the NIH what sort of size funding are you getting from them?
Jackie Fairley:
So we have several funding elements with from the NIH there are under several different programs. In total the support for the VivaGel program is around $30 million.
Listing and fund raising in US
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now Starpharma is a publically coded company here in Australia and you've also got a listing in the US as well as an ADR, is that correct?
Jackie Fairley:
That's correct. So we have a primary listing on the Australian stock exchange and we are also listed in the US on a new exchange call the OTCQX.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Jackie Fairley:
And our American Depositary Receipt marketed on that exchange in the US. We have around 12% of our shares held through the ADR program in the US. And we built that we and in total we have around 25% of our shares held by US share holders now. We've built that from zero in January 2005.
Fintan Walton:
And is that true specific fund raising that you've done in the US?
Jackie Fairley:
So it's through a combination effect, as the ADR program is around 12% we have a major share holding from the Dow Chemical Company which holds around 8% of our shares and in addition to that we have also done an institutional financing in the US and Platinum Partners came in as investors in that brand.
The share holding of Dow Chemical.
Fintan Walton:
Right, how did Dow Chemical end up having a 8% share holding?
Jackie Fairley:
So Dow chemical is a share holder in Starpharma as a result of a transaction that I referred to earlier with the acquisition of the US business Dendritic Nanotechnologies which acquired in October 2006. We were a minority [PharmaDeals ID = 25466] share holder in Dendritic Nanotechnologies together with the Dow Chemical company because we basically had complementary technologies. Dowhad invested [PharmaDeals ID = 19082] heavily in the dendrimers space in the lead up to the formation of that company and in 2006 we translated what was a minority share holding into a 100% are in subsidiary and as a result of that Dow became a share holder in the parent company Starpharma.
The focusing on the pharmaceutical application of Dendrimers and moving into other therapeutic areas.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now one thing about having a platform technology company like yours, you described it as a platform technology company, is that you can go off in many directions and sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it looked upon as a bad thing, I am sure you have some share holders may have some views on that but what do you do? I mean are you looking to hold on to all of that breadth that you can get from that technology or are you gonna spin out separate companies?
Jackie Fairley:
So we are not necessarily considering spinning out the technology in separate companies but we definitely so we are focused on the pharmaceutical applications of dendrimers squarely focused on that. VivaGel and the drug delivery applications in terms of our own discovery and development efforts. However we do have programs where we take some of the dendrimer applications to an early stage with the view to partnering those relatively early so that the development is completed by the partner [ph] and in that situation we then would derive royalty revenues from that and we do have deals currently with Dade Behring and diagnostics and Qaigen in laboratory reagents and also EMD Merck the [PharmaDeals ID = 26596] German Merck company again in a laboratory reagent and in those situations we have proven up the initial technology but then licensed that are at a relatively early stage for the final product development to acquire with those partners.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So when it comes to the potential therapeutic applications as a drug delivery you already talked about the applications and condoms and as an anti-infective, what else can you do with this technology? Where -- what are the therapy areas can you move into?
Jackie Fairley:
Well in fact the therapeutic areas you can move into are all therapeutic areas because the delivery technology is simply a means by which you can modify an existing either small molecule drug or a proteintherapeutic like an antibody or hormone or something like that. And you can actually modify the duration that it lasts in the body where it's distributed in the body these, these molecules because they large this nanotechnology idea that are concentrated in solid tissue tumors like prostate cancer and the breast cancer and things like that. So there you could apply them across a very broad range of drugs. We wouldn't of course be seeking to develop those internally. This is a technology that can be licensed many times over for different therapeutic areas and different applications.
Fintan Walton:
So obviously then you need to get that technology out and get pharmaceutical companies to start. They effectively playing with that technology, seeing the benefits with that, is that happened?
Jackie Fairley:
Absolutely, so we have a very active business development, if is [ph] both you know a global effort really and we are in communication with and we do have some deals already in existence with several pharmaceutical companies not all of those we are able to talk about publically but we do have a publically released deal [PharmaDeals ID = 29140] with the world's largest private dermatology company Stiefel Laboratories which is a large company with operations all around the world. That is in a small molecule area and that is to improve an existing dermatology drug. And so in that situation that is a I guess the most concrete example for that small molecule application. We also have other partnerships at various stages. And we actively are building those relationships all the time.
Solid cash position of the company
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now finally just looking at the markets and so forth currently you obviously listed on ASX your current cash position going forward and the rate of burn does that mean that you are gonna have to raise capital soon?
Jackie Fairley:
Look one monitors those things closely and obviously the market situation as well as all the rest of it we have you know we have a we have a solid cash position. We have a relatively modest burn as a result partly of this external funding. We also have revenues coming in from our diagnostics royalties out of the US operation which you know came through that acquisition and we also have a relatively nearer term revenue opportunity in the form of the condom coating. So there are many factors that play into that equation. And so it, you know it's really monitoring that going forward which is necessary.
Fintan Walton:
So you are pretty relaxed about?
Jackie Fairley:
Look I don't think anyone in the phase of the current markets could be relaxed about what is happening to, you know the evaluations of companies and the availability of capital. But let's just say we have great optionality because of the structure of our business perhaps than a company that is simply raising share holder funds to invest in a program we have an element of risk mitigation I guess through those various firms.
Fintan Walton:
Thank you Jackie Fairley, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Jackie Fairley:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Thank you.
Jackie Fairley:
Thank you.
Jackie Fairley
Chief Executive Officer
Dr JJackie Fairley, CEO of Starpharma, has over 18 years' experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries working in business development and senior management roles with companies including CSL and Faulding (now Mayne Pharma). Before joining Starpharma as COO in 2005, she was CEO of Cerylid Biosciences Limited. During her time as CEO of Cerylid, the company generated revenues of over $20 million, raised more than $10 million private equity funding and completed the acquisition and integration of a private kinase company. Prior to joining the biotechnology sector, Dr Jackie Fairleyspent 5 years as a Vice President for Faulding's injectable division where she was responsible for the group's global business development activities and injectable development program supporting product sales of more than $200 million into 70 countries. Dr. Jackie Fairley has served on several government committees including the Federal Government's Pharmaceutical Industry Working Group, Biotechnology Advisory Council and the Victorian Innovation Economy Advisory Board.
Starpharma
Starpharma Holdings Limited is a world leader in the development of nanotechnology products for pharmaceutical, life-science and other applications. Starpharma's lead product is VivaGel, a gel-based formulation of a nano-pharmaceutical under development as a vaginal microbicide to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and genital herpes. VivaGel is at the expanded safety/Phase IIa stage of clinical development and has been granted Fast Track status by the FDA, which will accelerate the clinical and regulatory process. In addition, VivaGel has been awarded US$20.3 million by the NIH to progress the development for HIV. The NIH has provided additional funding to develop VivaGel against genital herpes. Starpharma has a 100% owned US-based subsidiary Dendritic Nanotechnologies Inc expanding the company's potential products to include drug delivery and industrial specialty chemical applications, many of which have near-term cash-flow opportunities.