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Laura Gardner

Giant biotech acquires Brandeis spin-out

Technology developed at Brandeis University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston.

WALTHAM, Mass. (Jan. 31, 2007) -- Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, a spin-out company formed by Brandeis University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Boston announced today that it was acquired by biotech giant Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB - News). Syntonix, a privately held biopharmaceutical company, was founded in 1997 based on breakthrough discoveries from the laboratories of Neil Simister, Ph.D. (Brandeis), Wayne Lencer, M.D. (Children’s), and Richard S. Blumberg, M.D. (Brigham). Their research harnesses the human body’s natural immunological pathways for novel methods of drug delivery.

"We founded Syntonix with the hope of translating our basic discoveries into improvements in healthcare. The company developed and expanded our technologies to the stage where they have preclinical candidates for treating hemophilia and infertility. Biogen Idec’s acquisition is an excellent outcome because they have the expertise in manufacturing and development to bring these drugs to the clinic,” said Neil Simister, a Brandeis biology professor and one of Syntonix’ founders.

“Brandeis University has a very strong science faculty. This acquisition by Biogen Idec is evidence of the strength of Brandeis’ technology. Brandeis has spun-out a number of companies; however, this is the first to be acquired by a large biotech. We are very pleased to have Biogen Idec as our new licensee and we look forward to their success with this technology,” said Irene Abrams, the Director of the Office of Technology Licensing at Brandeis University.

Syntonix's lead product, FIX:Fc, is a proprietary long-acting factor IX product for the treatment of hemophilia B. It has the potential to reduce the frequency of intravenous injections required for disease management. Syntonix is expected to file an investigational new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for FIX:Fc in 2007.

The transaction closed on Jan. 31, 2007. In connection with the closing of the merger, Syntonix became a wholly owned subsidiary of Biogen Idec. Biogen Idec plans to maintain Syntonix's 25,000 square-foot facility in Waltham, MA for the continuing operation of Syntonix programs.

About Syntonix's Hemophilia Programs and Technology Platforms
FIX:Fc is being developed for the treatment of hemophilia B in a strategic alliance with Biovitrum AB of Sweden with the companies sharing equally the costs and profits of development and commercialization. Following regulatory approval, Syntonix is responsible for marketing FIX:Fc in North America and Biovitrum is responsible for marketing FIX:Fc in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

Syntonix is pursuing other early-stage programs, including a long-acting factor VIII program, with the potential to improve the treatment of hemophilia A. In developing novel and improved treatments, the company uses propriety technology, including the SynFusion(TM) and Transceptor(TM) platforms.

SynFusion drugs are based on proprietary Fc-fusion technology to create long-acting biopharmaceuticals with reduced dosing frequencies. Specifically, the SynFusion technology links a single copy of the drug to the Fc region on an antibody to optimize the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the biopharmaceutical and extend its circulating half-life.

Transceptor is a proprietary technology that enables pulmonary delivery of a SynFusion or Fc-fusion drug. The natural FcRn pathway transports antibodies and Fc-fusion drugs across the epithelial cell barrier in the lungs.

About Hemophilia
Hemophilia is a rare, inherited bleeding disorder that is caused by mutations that impair or eliminate the production of essential clotting factors naturally found in the blood. Hemophilia B, caused by mutations in the factor IX gene, affects approximately 3,600 people in the Unites States. Hemophilia A, caused by mutations in the factor VIII gene, affects approximately 14,500 people in the U.S. Both forms of hemophilia are characterized by spontaneous or prolonged bleeding for which there is no cure.

Today a majority of hemophilia patients are treated with recombinant-derived factor VIII and IX products.

Increasingly, younger patients are prescribed prophylaxis regimens with these products to prevent bleeding, rather than receiving treatment at the time of a bleed ("on-demand"). Long-term studies have demonstrated that maintaining a better circulating level of coagulation factor by infusing patients two or three times a week greatly reduces progressive joint deterioration commonly seen in hemophilia patients as a result of the bleeding.