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REPLIGEN WILL ACQUIRE R&D FIRM AMIRA FOR $ 5.2 MIL.

Executive Summary

REPLIGEN WILL ACQUIRE R&D FIRM AMIRA FOR $ 5.2 MIL. in stock under an agreement announced by Repligen on Oct. 1. Under the terms of the agreement, Repligen will pay approximately 320,000 shares of its common stock to the eight shareholders of privately held Amira after which the firm will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Repligen. Founded in 1989 by Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, PhD, formerly of MIT, and James Lillie, PhD, formerly of Harvard, Worcester, Mass.-based Amira specializes in research and development of small molecules that have been shown in vitro to inhibit key enzymes that mediate intracellular processes. Unlike Repligen, Amira is not involved in cloning and expressing human proteins. The company has supported its research with funding from Worcester-based Commonwealth Bioventures. Repligen stressed the synergies of Amira research and discovery programs with the work Repligen is doing. "Drug development by both companies is focused on virology, cancer and inflammation, with Repligen employing a biological approach and Amira pursuing directed chemical research," the Oct. 1 release points out. Kaddurah-Daouk and Lillie, according to a Repligen release, have "identified a means of modifying certain intracellular processes." These processes, the release continues, "have been implicated in cancer cell growth, virus replication and the neutrophil activation that results in inflammation." Lillie said that Amira is developing technology aimed at inhibiting the activity of "enzymes that are involved in signal transduction," which regulate proteins that determine "whether or not a signal will tell a cell to grow." He added that "our main focus is oncology and viral infection," explaining that "when a virus infects a cell it requires . . . cellular proteins to replicate; our strategy is to inhibit the production of those proteins." The company plans to use the same strategy to combat cancerous tumors, he said. Amira's lead compound, AM-285, inhibits creatine kinase, Lillie said. The potential antiviral is currently in preclinicals but could be ready for human trials by next year, he predicted. Lillie said Amira has applied for a patent on its method of inhibiting virus and tumor growth and patent continuations for five compounds. The patents have not yet been granted. Repligen is developing a range of biological products aimed at cancers and autoimmune diseases. The company is working on an AIDS vaccine with Merck and is looking at platelet factor 4 as a potential treatment for Kaposi's sarcoma. Further back in the discovery phase, the company is also looking for potential AIDS treatments.
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