TORONTO, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Bontan Corporation Inc. ('the Company") (BNTNF) ("Bontan") is pleased to announce that its application to move its jurisdiction to the British Virgin Islands ("BVI") from Ontario has been approved. The Company will continue as a BVI corporation under the new name Portage Biotech Inc ("Portage").
The Company continues to have reporting obligations under the Ontario Securities Act and under the US Securities and Exchange Act as a foreign reporting issuer. Its securities will continue to trade on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board of NASDAQ under the existing symbol: BNTNF. The Company is in the process of applying for a new CUSIP number and filing the necessary documents with FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) to register its new name, new industry code and new trading symbol to reflect its new business direction.
As previously announced, on June 4, 2013, the board of directors of Portage is comprised of Dr. Declan Doogan, Dr. Gregory Bailey, Mr. James Mellon and Mr. Kam Shah. Dr. Doogan is the new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Shah is the Chief Financial Officer and Dr. Bailey is the Chairman of the Board.
Portage has an operating subsidiary - Portage Pharma Ltd. ("PPL"). PPL holds an exclusive licence in non-oncology fields under patents granted in the USA, Australia, Israel and New Zealand and patents applied for in Japan and Canada. PPL has an exclusive worldwide licence in non-oncology fields and the know-how relating to the Antennapedia protein transduction technology developed by Trojantec. Antennapedia ("Antp") is an unusual protein that allows for the delivery of drugs right into a cell and even into the nucleus which is often the desired site of action. This protein coupled with a drug may even cross the blood brain barrier.
Many diseases are due to flawed or deficient gene function or missing enzymes. Genes may be regulated through the direct delivery of biologically active molecules using Antp-based products. These products could restore or normalize gene function or replace missing or defective protein products. Other diseases have treatment but the drug cannot get into the nucleus or into the cell where they are needed and Antp could be a transformative delivery system.
PPL is developing a research pipeline of Antp-based drug candidates and is evaluating their function and potential as new therapeutic agents for a variety of non-oncology indications.
PPL currently has nine biotech professionals acting as consultants. They are led by Dr. Bruce Littman as Chief Executive Officer and President, and Dr. Frank Marcoux as Chief Scientific Officer. They report to the Board of Directors of PPL which is headed by Dr. Declan Doogan. Drs. Littman, Marcoux and Doogan have over 60 years of combined experience in the financing and development of new drugs and have been associated with major pharmaceutical companies in executive positions. PPL plans on streamlining its drug development process through contract research organizations. This strategy offers the benefit of fast delivery, a higher level of efficiency and lowered costs associated with drug development.
The following are the backgrounds of the new management and Board members:
Gregory Bailey M.D. is a co-founder of Ascent Healthcare Solutions, the number one re-processor of used surgical equipment; VirnetX Inc., an internet security company (VHC:AMEX); and Duramedic Inc., a medical products company. He is a former financier and director of Medivation Inc. (MDVN:NASDAQ) from 2005 to 2012.
Declan Doogan M.D. was the previous CEO and Head of R&D at Amarin Inc. (AMRN:NASDAQ) and the former Head of Worldwide Drug Development at Pfizer Inc. He has held Visiting Professorships at Harvard School of Public Health, Glasgow University Medical School and Kitasato University (Tokyo). He sits on the boards of Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute UK, Sosei (Japan Biotech), Trojantec (UK, oncology) and Spinifex (Melbourne). He continues to provide medical advice to Amarin Inc.
Jim Mellon: Jim holds directorships in a number of publicly quoted companies, many of which are in the biopharma sector including Miraculins, Plethora Solutions, and the Summit Corporation. He is also chairman of AIM listed Port Erin Biopharma Investments, a fund specialising in biopharma investments and is the author of the best-selling book "Cracking the Code" which charts the developments within the biotech industry. Jim's other listed company directorships include chairman of Manx Financial Group and Speymill, co-chairman of both Regent Pacific Group and West African Mining Corporation, and a board member of Brazilian Gold Corporation, Charlemagne Capital and Condor Resources.
Bruce H. Littman, M.D., has over 30 years of research and drug development experience. He was Vice President and Global Head of Translational Medicine in Pfizer and also has a strong academic background in immunology, rheumatology and inflammation. His skill set is particularly suited to developing de-risking strategies and using an understanding of how drugs behave in the body to evaluate early drug candidates. He has an excellent track record in early clinical development. After retiring from Pfizer at the end of 2007 he became an independent consultant. Prior to that, he served for 13 years on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia. He is an author and co-editor of "Translational Medicine and Drug Discovery" published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press.
Frank W. Marcoux, Ph.D. has over 25 years of pharmaceutical company and academic research experience. He was the VP of Quantitative and Innovative Medicine in Worldwide Development at Pfizer and former VP of Worldwide Discovery Biology Discipline Head until 2008 when he became an independent consultant. Previously he worked for Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research for seventeen years. Dr. Marcoux's consulting focus is on high confidence translation of drug discovery programs to early clinical proof of concept and is aimed at biotech, Pharma and academic medical centres. Dr. Marcoux holds a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics and held research positions prior to industry at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Medical Center, and at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine.
Dr. Bailey, the Chairman commented, "We believe that the name change and continuation of Bontan to BVI creates a tax efficient model and increases the opportunity for value appreciation for shareholders. It also allows us to create subsidiaries like PPL that will be of interest to large pharmaceutical companies with significant cash outside of North America."
Dr. Doogan, CEO commented, "We now have a structure and a team. The continuance into BVI is expected to open up more opportunities. This will enable us to develop multiple products that will all be assessed by partners on their individual merits as opposed to focussing on a single lead product."
Portage is engaged through its subsidiary in researching and developing pharmaceutical and biotech products through to clinical "proof of concept" with an initial focus on unmet clinical needs and orphan drugs. Following proof of concept, Portage will look to sell or license the products to large pharmaceutical companies to gain global distribution.
Portage management is looking to in license additional biotech products.
This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal and Canadian securities laws. Any such statements reflect Portage's current views and assumptions about future events and financial performance. Portage cannot assure that future events or performance will occur. Important risks and factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those indicated in our forward-looking statements.
Portage assumes no obligation and expressly disclaims any duty to update the information in this News Release.
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