Oragenics, Inc. Exploring Strategic Alternatives for OTC Probiotics Biz

Published: Dec 23, 2014

Oragenics Exploring Strategic Alternatives for OTC Probiotics Biz
December 23, 2014
By Jessica Wilson, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Oragenics, Inc. , which is currently searching for a chief executive officer, today announced that its board of directors has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for the company’s over-the-counter (OTC) probiotic business. The Florida-based biopharmaceutical company indicated these alternatives could be joint ventures, strategic partnerships, or a sale of the OTC probiotic products business.

“We believe it is a prudent time to explore strategic alternatives for this business unit,” Frederick Telling, Oragenics’ chairman, said in a statement. This decision will allow the company to “concentrate and focus our efforts and resources on the ongoing collaborations we have with Intrexon Corporation for the development of our novel class of antibiotics known as lantibiotics and probiotics for treatment of diseases of the oral cavity.”

The company stated that this decision may not lead to any transaction, or that if a transaction is pursued, it may not be completed.

This shift in strategy comes in the wake of the October resignation of Oragenics’ CEO John Bonfiglio to “pursue other opportunities,” according to the company. During his tenure as CEO, Bonfiglio developed the partnership with Intrexon that will be the company’s new strategic focus.

Maryland-based Intrexon, synthetic biology company, “applies engineering to biological systems to enable DNA-based control over the function and output of living cells,” according to the company’s website.

Oragenics and Intrexon created their first Exclusive Channel Collaboration (ECC) in June 2012 to commercialize lantibiotics, a novel class of broad-spectrum antibiotics, for the treatment of infectious diseases. Lantibiotics represent a potential treatment for multiresistant pathogens. The diseases Oragenics and Intrexon are focusing for treatment by lantibiotics include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Clostridium difficile, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), in humans and companion animals.

The two companies formed an additional ECC in October 2013 to develop genetically modified oral microbes for the treatment of diseases of the oral cavity, throat, sinus and esophagus, focusing Behçet’s disease and aphthous stomatitis.

Seeking Alpha columnist Trevor Lowenthal, a closely watched industry source for biopharma news, wrote in April that he believed that the company’s value had been “trapped” by “failed efforts” to revamp sales of its oral care product, ProBiora3. Lowenthal further stated that the “true potential” of the company lay in “the development of the lantibiotic Mu1140-S, using its patented organic chemistry synthesis platform, DPOLT (Differentially Protected Orthogonal Lanthionine Technology).”

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