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CellzDirect, Inc. Acquires Hepatotech Inc.'s Cell Culture Business; State-Of-The-Art Lab In North Carolina Complements Recent Acquisition Of CEDRA Corporation's In Vitro Drug Metabolism Unit

10/19/2005 5:09:59 PM

TUCSON, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 11, 2004--CellzDirect Inc., a cell-based biotech company, announced today that it has acquired the assets and expertise of HepatoTech Inc., including its new cell-culture facilities located outside Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

HepatoTech's scientific focus has been to optimize the isolation and culture of high-quality hepatocytes from multiple species. Hepatocytes have become the "gold standard" in the pharmaceutical industry for evaluating liver metabolism and toxicity of new drug candidates and other chemical entities.

HepatoTech's President and Chief Executive Officer D. James Coon and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Ed LeCluyse assembled an experienced team of scientists and launched HepatoTech to maximize the benefits of cell-based hepatic in vitro models. As Associate Professor of Drug Delivery and Disposition at the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy, Dr. LeCluyse conducted research focused on understanding the mechanisms of induction of hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes, as well as enhancing the isolation of human and animal hepatocytes.

At the end of 2003, CellzDirect closed an additional $2.8 million round of equity financing and acquired CEDRA Corporation's in vitro business. Investors Valley Ventures, Solstice Capital, Technology Funding, and Village Ventures continued their support of CellzDirect's goal to become a global leader in cell commercialization and outsourced-research services.

CellzDirect's Chief Executive Officer Scott Edelman said regarding HepatoTech, "We are pleased to have Ed LeCluyse join our executive team as chief scientific officer. He is regarded as one of the leading experts in the liver-research field. Many of the top pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the U. S. and Europe, as well as regulatory agencies, consult with Dr. LeCluyse about issues related to drug metabolism, drug-drug interactions, and toxicity, which together represent about half of the reasons that new drugs fail."

Chief Business Officer Rick Williams added, "During my 25-year career at Merck, Genentech, and AmerisourceBergen, I have seen R&D costs more than triple; yet it still takes about 12 to 15 years to get a new drug to market. Each day of delay can cost biopharmaceutical companies $1 million in lost commercial revenue. With the addition of HepatoTech, we have reinforced our commitment to develop innovative new products and services that help bio/pharmaceutical scientists to contain costs and expedite the in vitro phase of their research."

Chief Scientific Officer Ed LeCluyse stated, "We are excited about having the opportunity to combine HepatoTech's scientific talent and resources with the commercial expertise of CellzDirect's founders. CellzDirect's experience with tissue procurement, product commercialization, and business development will ensure that our scientific team can accomplish its goal to improve and expand the use of hepatocytes in research."

Larry Aldrich, whose Valley Ventures company was the lead investor in the last equity round, commented, "CellzDirect has brought together a formidable team of scientific and commercialization experts. As investors, we remain excited about CellzDirect's business model that combines in-house product development and intellectual property with external opportunities created by industry and academic collaborations."

CellzDirect is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. With the new HepatoTech facility in North Carolina and the former CEDRA in vitro business in Austin, Texas, CellzDirect has broader nationwide access to bio/pharmaceutical customers. CellzDirect's strategy to create scientific centers of excellence will ensure that: (1) its research customers will receive stellar products and services, and (2) progress will be made immediately to enhance cold storage of liver cells, cryopreservation, and the development of new in vitro models.

Since its inception three years ago, CellzDirect has raised $7.2 million to support building a business that is focused on meeting the in vitro research needs of pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The employees at CellzDirect are dedicated to providing scientists with high-quality, cost-effective cell products and outsourced services to accelerate the discovery and development of safe new drugs.

CellzDirect 2802 N. Alvernon Way, Ste 100 Tucson, AZ 85712


CellzDirect Rick Williams, 757-253-6464 or Dr. Ed LeCluyse, 919-545-9959

Source: CellzDirect

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