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MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia - 12/02/2013

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(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Acuvax (ASX: ACU) will cement its position in the biopharmaceutical space with the acquisition of Biolife Science.

The company has now executed a binding share purchase agreement to acquire all of the issued capital in Biolife.

With the acquisition, Acuvax will also rebrand to Biolife Science and Biolife will change its name to Biolife Science (Qld) Ltd.

Biolife technology

Biolife has an agreement to acquire the intellectual property for a novel vaccine therapy for certain types of breast, gastric, pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

Following successful phase one clinical trials in Europe, the vaccine " known as HER-VAXX " has been shown to trigger an immune response to cancerous cells that over-express the HER-2 receptor responsible for regulating cell division.

The HER-2 receptor is a cancer marker, which is over expressed in various major cancers such as breast, gastric, pancreatic and prostate.

The inhibition of HER-2 with antibodies slows cancer progression.

HER-2 is the target of billion-dollar drug Herceptin, which is a monoclonal antibody (Trastuzumab) administered to breast cancer patients intravenously on a weekly basis for 12 months.

HER-VAXX is intended to produce an immune response in patients against HER-2, thus mimicking the effects of Herceptin.

As a vaccine, it is expected to be administered only three to four times annually.

Current treatments for HER-2 positive cancers include a combination therapy of injected monoclonal antibodies, such as Trastuzumab (Herceptin) and chemotherapy.

Trastuzumab binds to the HER-2 receptors thereby diminishing their ability to send signals to the cell to divide.

Unlike Trastuzumab, HER-VAXX consists of peptides derived from HER-2 which, when injected, induce the body's immune B cells to produce an ongoing supply of polyclonal antibodies against HER-2.

These antibodies bind to the HER-2 receptors, including the epitope (site) that Trastuzumab binds to, but can also bind to other epitopes on the receptor giving it the potential to be more effective, longer lasting and, therefore, more cost effective.

Market potential

Herceptin has annual sales of over US5 billion and is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the treatment of breast cancer.

A course of Herceptin costs in the order of A50,000 per annum in Australia and as much as US70,000 per annum in the U.S.

Acquisition terms

Under the deal, Acuvax will undertake a consolidation of share capital on the basis of one new share for every 200 shares currently held.

Acuvax will issue 20 million fully paid ordinary shares, 10 million Class A Performance Shares and 10 million Class B Performance Shares to Biolife shareholders.

The Class A Performance Shares will be convertible into ordinary shares upon obtaining a successful investigational new drug application from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in respect to an immunotherapy treatment for HER-2 positive gastric or breast cancer.

The Class B Performance Shares will be convertible into ordinary shares once Acuvax has administered the first dose in a phase two trial of an immunotherapy treatment for HER-2 positive gastric or breast cancer.

Acuvax plans to also raise up to 5 million through the issue of up to 25 million shares at 0.20 each.

Patersons Corporate has been appointed lead manager to the offer.


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