MEDICAL SCIENCE PARTNERS HAS BACKED FIVE DRUG VENTURES
MEDICAL SCIENCE PARTNERS HAS BACKED FIVE DRUG VENTURES that have raised a total of $11.25 mil. in private equity funding. Brookline, Mass.-based MSP was created by Harvard Medical School in the autumn of 1988 with $36 mil. in capital as a venture firm to commercialize products from medical research conducted in Harvard system labs. To date, the fund, which closed in January, has been distributed to five companies -- Diatech, Hybridon, Ascent Pharmaceuticals, OraVax and Medical Science Products. MSP would not disclose its stake in the five companies. The venture captial fuel estimates it will back 15-20 companies over the life of the 12-year partnership. The MSP fund was created by Harvard Medical School after an eight year internal review process during which the school decided not to participate directly in such ventures. At the outset ("The Pink Sheet" Sept. 26, 1988, T&G-16), Harvard decided that MSP would operate as an "independent, arms-length, third-party entity." Of the five ventures, Diatech has raised the most venture capital backing to date, $4 mil., since its founding in February. The firm, based in Londonderry, N.H., is working on technetium-labeled peptides for early stage diagnostic imaging of atherosclerosis and other diseases. Its lead compound, licensed from New England Deaconess Hospital, is the peptide diagnostic SP4. Diatech's execs were previously with Centocor: CEO Richard Dean, PhD, and Director of Research John Lister-James, PhD. Hybridon, located in Brookline, also was established in February. Its mission is to develop genetically targeted or antisense drugs. The firm is now testing in vivo efficacy for two diseases. In March, Hybridon licensed the antisense technology from the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology where, in lab cultures, the process prevented the replication of the AIDS and influenzae viruses in human cells. Hybridon has raised $3 mil. in private funding. Hybridon's advisors include former FDA Toxicology and Pharmacology Division Assistant Director Wayne Galbraith. Ascent has developed and feasibility tested six pediatric and ophthalmologic drugs; the firm is also involved in the development of new proprietary forms for existing products in those fields. The start-up, located in Billerica, Mass., is headed by CEO Emmett Clemente (formerly of Fisons) and and VP Marketing Ronald Scroggins, who most recently was with Key Pharmaceuticals. Ascent has raised $3 mil. from private placements. OraVax (Cambridge, Mass.) develops oral pharmaceuticals to prevent pathogens from entering the body via the gastrointestinal tract, mucosal surfaces and genitalia, MSP Managing General Partner Andre Lamotte said. OraVax raised $1 mil. in its seed round. The fifth venture is owned by MSP, which provided $250,000 in seed money. Medical Science Products builds and develops prototypes that it then sells to existing companies for cash or an equity interest. Harvard's Ion, Inc. subsidiary is a passive limited partner in MSP but receives 10% of MSP's capital gains, which it then reinvests in medical research. MSP's other limited partners include three unidentified U.S. corporations, domestic and international financial institutions and private citizens, who match MSP's investment on a two-to-one basis.
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