RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation (OTC: RXII), a biotechnology company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative therapies addressing major unmet medical needs using RNA-targeted technologies, and OPKO Health, Inc. (NYSE: OPK) today announced a strategic pooling of their respective assets in the field of RNA interference (RNAi). Therapeutics based on RNAi technologies hold great promise to treat a wide range of diseases based on their potential to sustainably down-regulate the expression of a specific gene that may be over-expressed in a disease condition.
According to the terms of an asset purchase agreement jointly executed by the parties, RXi will acquire substantially all of OPKO’s RNAi-related assets, including an extensive intellectual property portfolio. The patent portfolio includes 12 patent families with claims relating to important biological targets, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1-alpha), intracellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), angiopoietin 2 (Ang2), and complement component 3 (C3). These molecules are believed to play an important role in diseases of the eye, cancer, immune disorders, and inflammatory diseases. The acquisition is expected to close on March 12, 2013, subject to satisfaction of closing conditions.
As consideration for these assets, RXi will issue to OPKO 50 million shares of its common stock and will make milestone payments to OPKO up to an aggregate of $50 million per product tied to the successful development and commercialization of products utilizing the acquired OPKO intellectual property. In addition, upon commercialization of these products, if approved, RXi would make royalty payments to OPKO.
“Together with its licensors and collaborators, OPKO was one of the early pioneers in the field of RNAi,” stated Dr. Geert Cauwenbergh, President and CEO of RXi Pharmaceuticals. “We are honored to have the privilege to extend OPKO’s ground-breaking work, while at the same time deepening our product pipeline and broadening our technology platform and intellectual property position. Combining OPKO’s RNAi assets and related intellectual property with our self-delivering (sd-rxRNA®) technology platform will further extend our competitive edge in this important field of pharmaceutical development.”