Intrexon has begun the new year with a bang. Last week, the Maryland-based company announced that it’s not only changing its name to Precigen but is adopting a new outlook as the biotech company taps Helen Sabzevari, Ph.D. to come on board as its new president and chief executive officer.
It was just two years ago that Intrexon created a new subsidiary for its human health projects called Precigen after worrying that they “may be overshadowed by the breadth and complexity” of its other synthetic biology projects. Today, the company is bringing those assets back into focus. Dr. Sabzevari who served as president of the Precigen unit also brings comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the research and development of immunotherapies and novel treatments.
“Aside from being the finest drug developer I have met, Helen demonstrated to all of us her tremendous managerial and leadership skills,” outgoing CEO Randal “RJ” Kirk said in a statement. “While I intend on staying close in my role as Executive Chairman, my confidence in Helen is enormous, and I believe that her leadership of the company will reward all of us who have contributed to and believed in Intrexon over the years."
The new healthcare-focused Precigen will include the company’s wholly-owned healthcare subsidiaries including ActoBio Therapeutics, Exemplar Genetics, and its majority ownership interest in Triple-Gene while selling its smaller non-healthcare businesses for $65.25 million.
Some of the non-healthcare assets sold include AgBiotech and Intrexon Produce Holdings, which are going to Third Security, LLC, a venture capital firm led by Kirk. Third Security acquired the assets for $53 million. Third Security also agreed to acquire $35 million worth of Intrexon’s common stock. Third Security also acquired Intrexon’s interests in Oragenics and Surterra, and the internet domain name DNA.com.
This means that proceeds from these financial moves, combined with existing cash-on-hand gives Precigen approximately $175 million in cash, meeting the company’s year-end goal. Two non-healthcare businesses will remain with the company: the industry-leading methane bioconversion business, MBP Titan LLC, and the established bovine genetics company, Trans Ova Genetics.
In 2020, the company looks to advance programs in immuno-oncology, infectious diseases, and autoimmune diseases as well as its UltraCAR-T programs, which uses non-viral gene delivery without the need for outside manufacturing.