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Two Tucson biotechs honored for fast-lane growth

By David Wichner

Two Tucson biotech companies are among a trio honored as “Fast Lane Companies” by AZBio, a statewide biosciences industry group.

Calimmune Inc. and HTG Molecular Diagnostics Inc. of Tucson will be joined by Phoenix-based VisionGate Inc. and recognized at the AZBio Awards on Oct. 1 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The Fast Lane awards are given to companies based on their achievement of major milestones, such as clinical results and major research collaborations.

HTG Molecular has commercialized its HTG Edge instrument platform and a portfolio of gene-based tests using its proprietary, RNA-based technology.

Earlier this year, HTG completed an initial public offering, receiving net proceeds of $44.2 million.

More recently, HTG announced Monday that it has formed a technology partnership with The Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF Centre) at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, for an RNA-based blood test for heart-transplant rejection using HTG’s EdgeSeq system.

In addition, HTG CEO T.J. Johnson said the firm plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for at least one of its tests and is aiming for a mid-2015 FDA submission for device clearance or premarket approval.

Calimmune, co-founded in 2006 by University of Arizona alumnus and company CEO Louis Breton, is in clinical trials with a gene-based drug for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV. Cal-1, the company’s lead drug candidate, is designed to control HIV infection and to protect people with HIV from progressing to AIDS. It is currently being evaluated in Phase I/II clinical studies in California.

In 2013, Calimmune won an $8.3 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to study its HIV drug. Calimmune was co-founded by Nobel Prize winner David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology.

In May, the company announced it had raised $15 million in new investment capital to fund the company’s ongoing HIV/AIDS drug trials, advanced research and operations.

Phoenix-based VisionGate has developed a sputum-based test to help physicians with the early detection of lung cancer.

The company recently announced positive trial results for its LuCED test and is part of one of the world’s biggest clinical trials for lung cancer.

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Page last updated July 06, 2017