Phoenix Pulls in $12M to Fuel Growth of Neutron Generators

Things are accelerating at Phoenix.

The Monona, WI-based business, which manufactures particle accelerator-based neutron generators and other machines, has outgrown its current headquarters and plans to break ground on a new home next year, says vice president of business development Evan Sengbusch.

Phoenix, which recently shortened its name from Phoenix Nuclear Labs, also plans to add about 30 new employees to its current 56-person team by the end of 2018, Sengbusch says.

The company has raised a $12 million round of financing to support the expansion. New York-based Deerfield Management led the Series B funding round, Sengbusch says. The other investors included several Wisconsin-based funds that had previously backed Phoenix, he says. The company has raised a total of about $18 million in outside investment since launching in 2005, Sengbusch says.

Read more at Xconomy.

Madison Vaccines Incorporated Appoints Jeff Bailey to Its Board of Directors

Madison Vaccines Incorporated (MVI) today announced the appointment of Jeff Bailey to the Company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Bailey brings nearly 30 years of experience based on a diverse set of leadership positions to aid MVI’s mission to bring immunotherapies to their full potential for treating prostate cancer.

Mr. Bailey has a track record of delivering compelling business performance based on building and leading teams in both mature and early stage organizations. Most recently, he was the Chairman and CEO of Neurovance, leading its acquisition by Otsuka earlier this year. Previously, he served as President and CEO of Lantheus Medical Imaging Inc., leading the company to a successful IPO. He also served as COO of Fougera Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Novartis), Chief Commercial Officer for King Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer), and held earlier executive positions at Novartis Pharmaceuticals as well as at Johnson and Johnson (including Janssen Pharmaceuticals). Mr. Bailey recently served on the board of Landauer, Inc. (NYSE – LDR) up through their acquisition by Fortive in September of this year. Mr. Bailey earned a business degree from Rutgers University.

Read more at BusinessWire.

FluGen Awarded $14.4 million by the Department of Defense

FluGen Inc., announced today that it has been awarded a grant of $14.4 million through the DOD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program’s (PRMRP) mechanism to conduct clinical challenge-studies against mismatched influenza strains with its lead universal flu vaccine, RedeeFlu™.

Under the three-year award, FluGen will conduct two challenge-studies with RedeeFlu™. In these studies, half of the participants will be vaccinated and half will receive a placebo but all will subsequently be infected with an influenza virus. The goal of these studies is to show that, unlike currently available vaccines in the United States, RedeeFlu™ can protect against infection in a mismatched vaccine-flu virus combination. In addition, the award will be used to look for correlates of immunity or biological markers that demonstrate that RedeeFlu™ vaccine will work in a given population.

Read more at BusinessWire.

Invenra Adds Experienced Clinical Immuno-oncologist, Dr. Paul Sondel to the Advisory Team

Invenra is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Paul Sondel in the role of Chief Medical Advisor (Volunteer). Dr. Paul Sondel [MD- Harvard Medical School, and PhD in Genetics– University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW)] is The Reed and Carolee Walker Professor of Pediatrics, Human Oncology and Genetics at UW where he continues as a full-time faculty member, leading lab, translational and clinical cancer immunotherapy research within the UW-Carbone Cancer Center.

“We are fortunate to get the opportunity to work with Dr. Paul Sondel. He is of the highest caliber and he brings deep experience in immuno-oncology, both from a basic research perspective and a clinical perspective. This experience on both sides allows him to bridge these different worlds and help translate research discoveries into therapies that save lives. We greatly admire Paul as a clinician and a person,” says Dr. Roland Green, CEO and Founder of Invenra.

Read more at BusinessWire.

FluGen Announces C. Boyd Clarke Has Been Named Executive Chairman

FluGen Inc. announced today that C. Boyd Clarke has joined the Company as Executive Chairman effective immediately. Mr. Clarke will replace Dr. Dan Stinchcomb, Chief Scientific Officer at the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Stinchcomb will remain on the board of directors as an independent member.

Mr. Clarke’s original training in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry was received at Merck and Company, where he held several positions, including Vice President of the Merck Vaccine Division and the founding President of Pasteur-Merieux MSD, a European joint venture that commercialized vaccines in the European Union. Since leaving Merck in 1996, his career has focused on leading and advising smaller developmental biotechnology and vaccine companies including Aviron, the developer of FluMist™, which he sold to MedImmune in 2001. In total Mr. Clarke has been responsible for $2.3 billion in vaccine and biotechnology mergers.

“Boyd brings to FluGen a wealth of vaccine leadership experience from both private and public companies and at a particularly important time for the Company,” said Dr. Paul Weiss, Managing Director at Venture Investors, and FluGen Investor. “His reputation for generating value and transforming it into corporate transactions is well established. This is the perfect time for Boyd to take on this role.”

Read more at BusinessWire.

Invenra Enters Collaboration Agreement With Merck

Invenra today announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to discover fully human therapeutic antibodies against an unnamed target of interest to Merck.  Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are excited to be working with this first rate team in Merck,” said Dr. Roland Green, CEO of Invenra.  “Invenra’s ability to test antibodies for a functional phenotype early in the screening process combined with Merck’s established role as a leader in this field will advance the science regarding difficult to address targets.  This collaboration marks a significant milestone for Invenra in its mission to advance the field of antibody discovery through its ultra-high throughput mAbSeq™ technology.”

Read more at PRNewswire.

Swallow Solutions Gulps Down $700K to Develop Thickened Beverages

Seventeen investors participated in the funding round, according to an SEC filing. The company has raised nearly $4.9 million since launching in 2009, says Eric Horler, president and CEO of Swallow Solutions.

Horler says that his company plans to use most of the money raised in the latest funding round to continue developing thickened beverages for patients with dysphagia—a difficulty swallowing often caused by weak mouth and throat muscles—and other conditions. Each year, about 4 percent of U.S. adults experience swallowing problems, according to a 2014 study.

Swallow Solutions’ beverages would be available for over-the-counter purchase, Horler says, rather than ordered for patients through a prescription. He says his company is still deciding how it would market and distribute the drinks. Most producers of thickened beverages for dysphagia patients sell through large food distributors such as Sysco (NYSE: SYY) and US Foods (NYSE: USFD). Swallow Solutions could elect to go a similar route, or work directly with retailers like Walgreens to put the beverages on store shelves, Horler says.


Invenra Appoints Anu Hoey Vice President, Corporate Development

Invenra has tapped veteran business development executive Anu Hoey to oversee its pipeline of immuno-oncology bispecific antibodies and strategic partnerships with antibody drug makers looking to win the race to market using Invenra’s high-throughput screening technologies, which simultaneously assess antibody binding and biological function in cell-based assays, instead of performing these activities sequentially, as other screening systems do.

The company today announced that Ms. Hoey has been appointed vice president of corporate development to lead business strategy for a Treg-depleting bispecific and an effector T cell-recruiting bispecific, two Invenra drugs entering preclinical trials. Ms. Hoey also will develop strategy for several other bispecifics in the lead-generation stage.

In addition to strategy for Invenra’s bispecific pipeline, Ms. Hoey will expand alliances with other antibody drug makers seeking to employ Invenra’s B-Body™ bispecific antibody format and mAbSeq™ antibody lead-generation platform to gain an advantage over competitors.


Phoenix Nuclear Labs signs deal to slice silicon panels for solar panel manufacturer

Phoenix Nuclear Labs, Monona, has been saying its technology is cutting-edge. Now, the company can prove it.

Phoenix has signed a long-term contract with Rayton Solar, a Santa Monica, California, company that plans to use Phoenix’s proton accelerators to help make solar panels.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In traditional manufacturing of solar panels, Rayton Solar says, diamond wire saws are used to cut thin layers of silicon, leaving wasted silicon sawdust.

Using Phoenix’s proton accelerators, high-current ion beams can produce thin silicon slices with no waste, the company says. That’s done by embedding protons into the silicon, heating it at a specific depth. The top layer pulls off the surface, creating a sheet of silicon that is one-twentieth the width of a human hair.

“We are capable of making up to 100 times as many solar panels with the same amount of silicon that our competitors use to make just one panel,” Rayton Solar CEO Andrew Yakub said. “Implementing this new manufacturing process will represent a revolutionary step for the solar industry.”

Phoenix is scheduled to deliver the first system by the end of 2017, with several additional units expected in 2018 and 2019, the company said.


PNL to supply Rayton Solar with technology for low cost solar panel production

Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) has signed a long-term agreement to be the exclusive supplier of high current proton accelerators to California-based Rayton Solar to produce low cost, high efficiency solar panels. Under the terms of the agreement, PNL will deliver the first system to Rayton at the end of 2017, followed by several additional units in 2018 and 2019.

Rayton Solar has developed a technique that they expect will reduce the cost of solar panel manufacturing and increase energy efficiency. “We are capable of making up to 100 times as many solar panels with the same amount of silicon that our competitors use to make just one panel,” said Rayton Solar CEO Andrew Yakub. “The high current, high voltage proton accelerator developed by PNL is critical for our process, and we are thrilled to have them onboard as a long-term partner.”

Read more at PR Newswire.