Biotech Startup Ibex Biosciences Quietly Sets Up Shop in Maryland

Published: Jul 17, 2017

Biotech Startup Ibex Biosciences Quietly Sets Up Shop in Maryland July 14, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

The Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, in Maryland, announced that Ibex Biosciences, a private company, will establish operations in Cumberland. The tiny company reportedly has three employees and plans facilities to support up to 12 scientist and administrative positions.

Ibex is focused on developing antibody and gene therapy technologies for oncology, inflammation, autoimmune disease and retinal disease. Earlier this year the company was a finalist for Immunomic Therapeutics’s Cancer Discovery Incubator Award.

Immunomic Therapeutics is a privately-held, clinical stage biotech company focused on vaccines. It is based in Rockville, Mary. The company founded The Cancer Discovery Incubator. “It’s an opportunity for you to bring your company here inside ITI, work with our team, have a lab bench you can use with the supplies, access to equipment, to build your dream,” said Immunomic Therapeutics’ founder Bill Hearl, in a video on the incubator website.

Ibex was founded in 2015 by Michael Karlin, chief executive officer, and Murat Croci, chief operating officer and chief scientist. Under the leadership of chief technology officer Normal Lai, the company is working on preclinical programs in monoclonal antibodies, stem cells, gene therapy, and enzymology.

The company indicates it currently employs three full-time scientists, two full-time managers, and three part-time consultants. It has submitted applications for three SBIR grants and expects to close its Series A financing this month.

Ibex has two preclinical therapeutic antibody programs. One is for various inflammatory diseases and the second is for cancer. The company is working with a contract research organization to develop up to five more antibodies by the end of the year.

Its gene therapy program is built on patented technology to treat Gaucher’s disease and other metabolic storage disorders. It expects to file an SBIR for Gaucher’s and its Sjorgen’s syndrome programs by the end of the year. Ibex also is working to develop a portfolio of cancer inhibitory genes.

The company has applied for two SBIR grants for its stem cell regeneration program, one for retinal regeneration and the other for cardiac muscle regeneration.

Ibex is also using proprietary technology to research feed efficiencies for farm-raised aquaculture. It is studying a portfolio of enzymes that might be added to aquaculture feed compositions in addition to raising complementary aquatic species within the same tank.

Although not much is known about the small startup, in January 2017, Royersford, Penn.,-based Abzyme Therapeutics announced it had received a milestone payment from Ibex after completion of the objectives of a 2014 research collaboration deal. The project’s goal was to develop highly specific VHH antibodies to Ibex’s proprietary cancer targets. Abzyme used its yeast-based camelid single domain VHH antibody library that has self-diversifying ability to develop VHH antibodies against the targets.

Financial details were not disclosed. The deal, however, appears to be continuing. Ibex holds worldwide commercial rights to the therapeutic products that are developed.

“Ibex has been a great partner,” said Hiep Tran, Abzyme’s chief executive officer and co-founder, in a statement. “We are thrilled to have Ibex’s continuing trust in our antibody development capacity. We are confident that with our antibody generation platform, Ibex will rapidly develop and move many more antibody candidates into clinical trials.”

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