Inviragen Merges with SingVax and Completes $15 million Series A Financing

Mon Oct 5, 2009 10:25pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. & MADISON, Wis. & SINGAPORE--(Business Wire)--
Inviragen and SingVax have merged their complementary vaccine pipelines and
their international product development capabilities to create a company that is
developing a wide range of vaccines for infectious diseases prevalent in
emerging economies. Concurrently with the merger, the combined company raised
$15 million in a Series A equity investment from a syndicate of international
venture capital investors, including Charter Life Sciences (Palo Alto, CA),
Venture Investors (Madison, WI), Bio*One Capital (Singapore) and Phillip Private
Equity (Singapore). 

The combined company will retain the Inviragen name and will have research and
corporate operations in Fort Collins, Colorado, vaccine development operations
in Singapore and vaccine testing capabilities in Madison, Wisconsin.
"Post-merger, Inviragen has three vaccines poised to begin human clinical
trials," noted Dr. Dan Stinchcomb, Inviragen Chief Executive Officer. "During
the next 18 months, these clinical studies will test vaccine safety and measure
the immune responses induced by these three vaccines to establish
'proof-of-concept' of their efficacy." 

Inviragen`s lead vaccine is designed to protect against dengue fever, a
mosquito-borne disease that threatens 3.6 billion people who live in tropical
and subtropical regions around the globe. Thirty-six million cases of dengue
fever are thought to occur per year worldwide. The most severe form of the
disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever, leads to the deaths of approximately 20,000
people annually. Both the number of reported cases and the number of countries
affected have been on the rise, and the disease could continue to spread due to
increasing urbanization, international travel and global warming. Dengue is a
major risk for international travelers: traveler`s cases of dengue outnumber
malaria for every continent except Africa. Human clinical testing of Inviragen`s
dengue vaccine is expected to commence in 2010 in the U.S., Colombia, and
Singapore. 

Inviragen`s second vaccine is designed to protect against hand, foot and mouth
disease (HFMD). Large epidemics of HFMD have plagued children in Asia for the
last twenty years. Notably, a major outbreak is underway this year in China,
with over 700,000 cases reported through July. There have also been yearly
outbreaks of HFMD among children in Singapore; 2008 was the worst epidemic year
to date with over 29,000 cases, which represents more than 9% of the estimated
susceptible population. 

The third Inviragen vaccine protects against Japanese encephalitis, a
mosquito-borne virus that causes 35,000 to 50,000 severe clinical cases and
kills 10,000 to 15,000 children throughout Asia every year. 

Inviragen is also developing vaccines to protect against other important
infectious diseases, including chikungunya, HPV, West Nile and influenza. 

"Inviragen`s lead vaccine product candidates have the potential to make a
significant impact on the health and well-being of billions of people
worldwide," said Mr. Fred Schwarzer, Managing Partner of Charter Life Sciences.
"We are pleased to have brought together a group of experienced international
investors to enable the development of these important products." 

"Venture Investors was impressed with Inviragen`s vision of building an
international vaccine development company and the experience and complementary
skills of their management team," said Mr. John Neis of Venture Investors. "The
Series A equity financing will fund the Phase 1 and 2 clinical testing of
Inviragen`s lead vaccines and fund company operations well into 2012." 

Dr. Duane Gubler, Director of the Duke/National University of Singapore Program
in Emerging Infectious Diseases and a founding advisor to Inviragen, stated,
"Inviragen and SingVax are technical innovators in vaccine development. We look
forward to productive collaborations to study dengue, HFMD, Japanese
encephalitis, chikungunya and other emerging infectious diseases." 

"Singapore is an ideal geographical base for Inviragen`s vaccine development
efforts," noted Dr. Joseph Santangelo, Chief Operating Officer. "We have easy
access to the growing economies and manufacturing capabilities of greater Asia,
and we have access to world-class infectious disease and biotechnology research
in Singapore." 

"We believe we are investing in a portfolio of vaccines that has the potential
to make significant contributions to global public health," commented Mr. Alex
Koo, Director, Phillip Private Equity. "We also believe in the impressive and
experienced team led by Dr. Stinchcomb and Dr. Santangelo." 

Ms. Chu Swee Yeok, Chief Executive Officer, Bio*One Capital of EDB Investments
commented, "We are excited about Inviragen`s efforts and progress in addressing
important diseases not only prevalent in Singapore and Asia but increasingly
prevalent in countries globally. Inviragen`s integrated international R&D
capabilities through operations in the United States and Singapore will position
it well to drive the successful clinical and commercial development of these
needed vaccines." 

About Inviragen and SingVax

Inviragen was founded to develop life-saving vaccines to protect against
emerging infectious diseases worldwide. Inviragen`s product candidates included
a vaccine to protect against dengue fever for global markets, a vaccine to
protect against West Nile, a vaccine to protect against chikungunya, a vaccine
against avian- (H5N1) and swine-origin (H1N1) influenza and a combination plague
and smallpox vaccine for biodefense. Inviragen had offices in Fort Collins,
Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin. Please see www.inviragen.com for more details. 

SingVax was founded as a vaccine development company focused on developing
vaccines for infectious diseases prevalent in the Asia Pacific region. SingVax`s
product candidates included an Enterovirus 71 (EV71) vaccine for the prevention
of HFMD in children, a Japanese encephalitis vaccine and a chikungunya virus
vaccine. SingVax, headquartered in Singapore, received investments from Bio*One
Capital, a leading fund management company for biomedical sciences. Please visit
www.singvax.com for more details. 

About Charter Life Sciences

Charter Life Sciences ("CLS") is a life sciences venture capital firm with
offices in Palo Alto, California and Cincinnati, Ohio. CLS focuses on providing
the initial venture capital to companies that are developing innovative products
for significant unmet medical needs. The CLS team draws on its extensive
medical, operational and start-up company experience to work collaboratively
with its portfolio companies to develop their clinical, operational and
financing strategies. For additional information on CLS, please visit
www.clsvc.com. 

About Venture Investors

Venture Investors is a venture capital firm with more than $200 million under
management. The firm invests in seed and early-stage life science and technology
companies in the Midwest, with a primary focus on opportunities that spin out of
the region`s leading research institutions. Formed in 1982, Venture Investors
has offices strategically located in Madison, Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Michigan
next to the third and fifth largest research institutions in the United States.
For additional information on the firm, visit www.ventureinvestors.com. 

About Bio*One Capital Pte Ltd

EDB Investments` subsidiary Bio*One Capital is a leading, biomedical sciences
dedicated investment management company in Asia with a global presence.
Investments are focused on promising and innovative international biomedical
companies where Bio*One Capital can play a value-adding role in bridging and
supporting growth strategies in Asia through Singapore. Bio*One Capital oversees
a portfolio of over 50 companies in the U.S., Europe, Singapore and Asia. For
more information, please visit www.bio1capital.com. 

About Phillip Private Equity

Phillip Private Equity is a private equity firm with more than $250 million
under management. The firm focuses on providing early stage, expansion stage,
mezzanine and pre-IPO funding to outstanding and pioneering companies in Asia
and the US. Established since 1993, Phillip Private Equity has a track record of
more than 16 years in managing proprietary and 3rd party funds. Phillip Private
Equity is also part of the Phillip Capital Group, comprising a group of
companies which offers a full range of quality and innovative financial services
to retail, corporate and institutional customers. The Group has offices in
Singapore, United Kingdom, France, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Australia,
Malaysia and Indonesia. For additional information on the firm, visit
http://www.phillip.com.sg. 

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:
http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6066210&lang=en

Inviragen
Dr. Dan Stinchcomb, +1-970-372-4754
or
SingVax
Dr. Joseph Santangelo, +65-6773-8527
or
Charter Life Sciences
Mr. Fred Schwarzer, +1-650-325-6953
or
Venture Investors
Mr. John Neis, +1-608-441-2700
or
Bio*One Capital
Dr. Su Ling Yeo, +65-6832-6303 

Copyright Business Wire 2009

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