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Genesis partner helps fund gene research; stock up

Genesis Research’s new partner to provide novel technology path to market; stock soars

By Peter Kerr

Oct. 23 (BusinessWire) – Genesis Research and Development’s search for a partner to bankroll further novel technology applications has resulted in a new subsidiary company financed by a Japanese investment fund.

MATF-1, part of Tokyo stock exchange listed MediBIC, is to invest up to $1 million in new Genesis subsidiary Solirna Biosciences Ltd., for the joint venture to develop single strand RNAi technology. The technology requires further research to enable delivery of specific gene silencing strands to targets such cancer tumours.

Genesis shares jumped 18% on the news to 7.cents on the NZX today. The Auckland-based biotechnology company has targeted immune disorders and cancer since its 1994 establishment, with the share price trading as high as $7.55 in February 2001. Its somewhat fraught history mirrors that of other biotechnology companies attempting to commercialise research into saleable products. Part of Genesis’ knowledge base is around gene silencing, now to be developed to market readiness through Solirna.

MediBIC’s mission is ‘personalised medicine,' concentrating on `pharmacogenomics,’ with a number of Asian and North American investments and collaborations. MATF-1 is one of its funding vehicles.

“MATF-1 wanted an equity position in the SSRNAi technology rather than funding Genesis,” said Genesis chief executive Stephen Hall.

Genesis’ special meeting today is necessary because the proposed investment by MATF-1 is more than half Genesis’ sharemarket capitalisation. The agreed value of the gene silencing technology is $2.2 million, compared to a recent Genesis average market capitalisation of $3 million.

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If shareholders agree to the formation of the new subsidiary company they can expect a proof-of-concept product by the end of 2010, said Hall in his presentation.

Scaling up of production and manufacturing of product should begin in 2011. A number of points of the commercialisation process have been indicated as points to either exit or obtain further investment.

Hall said the funds from the deal are required by Genesis to maintain its structure and capability while realising some of its other assets and developing Solirna. At the same time, the deal with MATF-1 allows Genesis to use the gene silencing technology in agriculture and horticulture biotech.

(BusinessWire)

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