A Santa Barbara biotechnology company that specializes in drug therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases recently received $2.23 million from a private fund. It was the second significant investment VG Life Sciences received from MedBridge Venture Fund this year, adding to its previous $550,000 investment.
VG Life Sciences’s headquarters are nestled amongst surf shops, wineries, and art studios in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Though the company, previously known as Viral Genetics, was originally based in San Marino, it relocated to the South Coast to be near parent company MedBridge on Gray Avenue.
In addition to their investments, MedBrige is taking over all administrative functions for VG Life Sciences, and John Tynan of TynanGroup, parent company to MedBridge, has been named interim CEO. VG Life Sciences is still in a development stage. Though the company boasts control over 50 U.S. and international patents, some of which are still pending, it has little revenue and a deficit of $87.5 million, according to its financial filings. However, this is not uncommon in biotechnology companies that are known to be high risk and high reward.
Its research focuses on metabolic disruption compounds, which interpret how cancer cells grow, and targeted peptide technology, which targets the inflammatory response found in most autoimmune diseases. “The reason we got intrigued was this peptide technology is one of the only drugs that has true promise for AIDS,” said Tynan. “[The investment] will go towards starting the animal safety studies for our primary drug.”
The products would be used for treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Lyme disease only after passing animal and clinical trials, as well as gaining FDA approval. The cancer drug is currently undergoing phase 1 of these trials, and Tynan predicts peptide trails will begin at the end of 2014.
“The company was at a tipping point earlier this year where it was coming out of research and development,” said Tynan. “It needed not only capital which we provided, but also administrative help. We felt that by moving the offices to Santa Barbara and injecting our leadership into the company we were on the right path.”