UbiVac Opts to Stay in Portland, Oregon, Expands Lab Space By Factor of 10

Published: Feb 18, 2016

UbiVac Opts to Stay in Portland, Oregon, Expands Lab Space By Factor of 10
February 18, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Portland, Ore.-based UbiVac, after considering moving to San Francisco or San Diego, has chosen to remain in Portland and move into a larger site.

UbiVac focuses on immuno-oncology. Its lead product is DPV-001 (DRibble), a first-in-class dendritic cell (DC)-targeted complex vaccine combination immunotherapy that is currently in Phase II clinical trials for lung cancer. A pilot study is also currently open for prostate cancer, and a Phase II clinical trial for breast cancer.

DRibble uses more than 100 cancer targets, including at least 13 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-prioritized antigens, along with five immune stimulants to, “educate immune cells to recognize cancer.”

The company argues that the product “has the potential to be an effective ‘off the shelf’ vaccine” for various cancers, including adenocarcinoma and squamous cell cancers.

On Sept. 29, 2015, UbiVac announced a collaboration deal with Janssen Biotech , a Johnson & Johnson company. UbiVac will develop preclinical and clinical versions of DRibble to be used in preclinical studies of oral cancer. The company received an undisclosed upfront payment, and is up for various research, development and manufacturing milestone payments. Janssen also has the option for further development and licensing of the technology.

At the moment, UbiVac rents 1,500 square feet of space at Portland’s Cancer Center. It will be leasing 15,000 square feet along Southwest Boones Ferry Road. The former tenant, Diana Plant Sciences, already has developed the space with wet labs and clean rooms.

When Bernard Fox, UbiVac’s chief executive officer, heard that Diana Plant Sciences was leaving the space and that, further, the owners were considering destroying what had been $2 million in renovations and improvements, he decided to act. “The push was at the end because they were going to clean it out and make it a shell space,” he told the Portland Business Journal.

Fox indicates that the space will still need about $2 million in improvements to bring it up to standards for drug manufacturing, but expects to move in on April 1. “It’s a great footprint to start with,” Fox told Portland Business Journal. “There isn’t that kind of space in Oregon. We were incredibly lucky.”

To buttress that point, it was noted that biotech company AbSci left Portland in November for Vancouver, Wash. because it couldn’t find appropriate space in Portland. AbSci is leasing 6,200 square feet of space in Vancouver in what was once the Red Lion hotel along the Columbia River. Vancouver hopes it will spark a bioscience boom in the city, with a life science research hub at the port’s 10-acre Terminal 1 site.

AbSci produces full-length antibodies in the bacteria E. coli using its technology SoluPro system. According to the company website, the system “eliminates the formation of inclusion bodies in the production process, allowing high quality, soluble versions of these highly valued proteins and antibodies to be produced in quantity.”

UbiVac was founded in Portland, Ore. in 2005 by Fox and Hong-Ming Hu. It is a spinout of the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Portland Medical Center. In cooperation with Oregon Health & Science University, UbiVac created UbiVac CMV to license sdCMV in 2011. sdCMV stands for spread-defective Cytomegalovirus, which is the basis for two of the company’s products in preclinical studies, which attempt to improve long-term cancer remission by stimulating the T-cell response created with cancer immunotherapies.

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