ZIOPHARM-Intrexon Synthetic Immuno-Oncology Programs Strengthened Through Collaboration With Merck Serono

BOSTON and GERMANTOWN, Md., March 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP) and Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON) today announced their oncology programs will be strengthened through Intrexon’s new global collaboration focused exclusively on novel chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) products with Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Intrexon will share the economic provisions of this collaboration, including upfront payment, milestones and royalties, equally with ZIOPHARM.

Under the collaboration Merck Serono will elect CAR-T targets, two initially, for which it will provide certain research funding. Through its agreement with Intrexon, ZIOPHARM will be responsible for any additional research and development expenditures. Once these candidates reach investigational new drug (IND) stage, the programs will be transferred to Merck Serono for clinical development and commercialization. ZIOPHARM and Intrexon will also independently conduct research and development on other CAR-T candidates, with Merck having the opportunity during clinical development to opt-in. ZIOPHARM’s other oncology programs will continue through its Exclusive Channel Collaboration (ECC) with Intrexon.

“Controlled CAR-T treatments hold the promise of delivering the powerful benefit of a targeted immune response to cancer with the ability to modulate immune toxicity, leading to safer, more efficacious treatments,” said Jonathan Lewis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of ZIOPHARM. “The collaboration with Merck Serono brings world-class resources to our development efforts that greatly enhance our ability to translate CAR-T therapies from bench to bedside.”

“Harnessing the power of the immune system in a regulated manner is key to address the challenges of current CAR-T approaches and combat malignancies with adoptive cell therapies,” said Gregory Frost Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Intrexon’s Health Sector. “We believe our alliances with Merck Serono and ZIOPHARM will accelerate progress in our synthetic immuno-oncology pipeline and drive next-generation medicines to market.”

R.J. Kirk, Chairman and CEO of Intrexon, commented, “The success of our partners is our #1 goal so it is gratifying for us to see the progress being made in the programs initiated under our ECC with ZIOPHARM. We look forward to seeing this progress accelerating in the coming months and years.”


ZIOPHARM Oncology is a Boston, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company employing novel gene expression, control and cell technologies to deliver safer, more effective and scalable cell-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. The Company’s synthetic immuno-oncology programs, in collaboration with Intrexon Corporation and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, include chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and other adoptive cell based approaches that use non-viral gene transfer methods for broad scalability. The Company is advancing programs in multiple stages of development together with Intrexon Corporation’s RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® technology, a switch to turn on and off, and precisely modulate, gene expression in order to improve therapeutic index. The Company’s pipeline includes a number of cell-based therapeutics in both clinical and preclinical testing which are focused on hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.

About Intrexon Corporation

Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON) is a leader in synthetic biology focused on collaborating with companies in Health, Food, Energy, Environment, and Consumer sectors to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet. Through the Company’s proprietary UltraVector® platform and integrated technology suite, Intrexon provides its partners with industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems delivering unprecedented control, quality, function, and performance of living cells. We call our synthetic biology approach Better DNA®, and we invite you to discover more at www.dna.com.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains certain forward-looking information about ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. and Intrexon Corporation that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for “forward-looking statements” provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts, and can be identified by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “believes,” and “estimates.” These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the progress, timing and results of preclinical and clinical trials; and the progress of research and development programs. All of such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of ZIOPHARM or Intrexon, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) based therapies will advance further in the pre-clinical or clinical trials process and whether and when, if at all, they will receive final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or equivalent foreign regulatory agencies and for which indications; whether CAR-T based therapies will be successfully marketed if approved; whether any of ZIOPHARM’s other therapeutic product discovery and development efforts will be successful; ZIOPHARM and Intrexon’s ability to achieve the results contemplated by their collaboration agreements; the strength and enforceability of the companies’ intellectual property rights; competition from other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; the development of, and the companies’ ability to take advantage of, the market for their therapeutic products; ZIOPHARM and Intrexon’s ability to raise additional capital to fund their operations on terms acceptable to the companies; and the other risk factors contained in ZIOPHARM and Intrexon’s periodic and interim SEC reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, their respective Annual Reports on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof, and neither ZIOPHARM nor Intrexon undertake any obligation to revise and disseminate forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or to reflect the occurrence of or non-occurrence of any events.

For more information contact:
ZIOPHARM Oncology contacts:
Lori Ann Occhiogrosso
Director of Corporate Communication

David Pitts or Eliza Schleifstein Argot Partners

Intrexon Corporation contacts:
Corporate: Marie Rossi, Ph.D.
Senior Manager, Technical Communications
Tel: +1 (301) 556-9850

Investor: Christopher Basta
Vice President, Investor Relations
Tel: +1 (561) 410-7052

News from HBA Boston chapter mentors: Making a difference



(By Ellie Eckhoff, vice president, ClearRock, Inc.)

It’s official, The HBA 2015 Boston chapter mentoring program is underway and this 10th anniversary year promises to be special. Mentors gathered on Thursday, March 12 at Genzyme to connect with each other, share what has worked in the past and grow as leaders, mentors and colleagues helping colleagues achieve their dreams. The meeting started with networking and breakfast, followed by helpful advice regarding best and next practices from past mentor circles. Susan Peppercorn facilitated a lively panel presentation made up of experienced mentors, mentees and connectors. The event concluded with this fantastic group picture taken by Rocky de Kok.

Special thanks go to all the mentoring committee organizers of the event as well as our sponsor Genzyme. Carole Huntsman of Genzyme provided opening comments on the value of mentoring.

A very special thank-you to Carol Bergeron for leading the mentor program in 2015.

Solo Shire moves 500 to Boston as it pushes ahead with reorg

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Published on FiercePharma (http://www.fiercepharma.com)

Solo Shire moves 500 to Boston as it pushes ahead with reorg

November 19, 2014 | By Carly Helfand

More than 500 Pennsylvania-based Shire ($SHPG) workers are shipping up to Boston in a move CEOFlemming Ornskov says will “streamline operations and drive further efficiencies.”

Merging the two bases “will enable greater alignment and execution of priorities between the company’s commercial and research and development teams to more effectively bring innovative products to patients, as well as strengthen collaboration and cross-development of employees,” it said in a statement.With the move–part of the company’s “One Shire” cost-cutting program–the drugmaker will establish suburban Lexington, MA, as its U.S. operational headquarters, it said in a Wednesday statement. There, employees relocating from its Chesterbrook, PA, location will join the R&D teams under one roof, a strategy Shire says will enhance collaboration–and save $25 million a year beginning in 2016.

With its AbbVie ($ABBV) deal collapse now in the rearview mirror, Shire has picked up where it left off before it entered into the July merger agreement. Ornskov has said it’s time to focus on an independent company, and a fast-growing one at that: The company is back to touting its plans to hit $10 billion in annual sales by 2020, and the 32% quarterly revenue increase it announced last month suggests it’s on the right path.

And that involves pushing forward with its company-wide reorg, aimed at combining three autonomous divisions into one business with reduced overlap. On that front, the job-cutting ax fell last November in the U.K., where the company announced plans to chop up to 180 research jobs, and in European hub Switzerland, where it moved its offices from Eysins to Zug.

As for the Chesterbrook shift, the company said it plans to move employees in “several phases” starting in Q1 of next year, with hopes it can finish up within about a year. Shire will offer severance, outplacement service and other employee assistance to all directly impacted employees who don’t relocate, it said.

Also based in Lexington will be new Interim CFO Jeff Poulton. Currently head of investor relations, he’ll leave his post to fill in for current interim CFO James Bowling when he departs at the end of February.