A Lawrence-based pharmaceuticals company that uses technology developed at Kansas University is being sold to Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $7 million in stock.
The acquisition of ProQuest Pharmaceuticals Inc., 1201 Wakarusa Drive, represents the first time a spinoff of KU research at the Lawrence campus has been sold to a public company, said Jim Roberts, president of the KU Center for Research Inc.
"It is a successful example of bringing KU technology to the market," said Roberts, KU's vice provost for research. "It also points out how KU technology can lead to wealth creation in the local community. And adding wealth to the community also creates jobs."
The deal, announced Thursday, will give Guilford full ownership of the intellectual property rights for Aquavan, an injectable sedative created at KU, developed through ProQuest and refined during the past four years through a licensing agreement with the Baltimore-based company.
"The Guilford team has done an excellent job in the development of Aquavan," said Ozzie Wong, ProQuest president, in a statement. "We continue to be impressed by this achievement and have great confidence in the company's management team and the potential commercial success of this product."
Aquavan is undergoing advanced clinical trials for use in colonoscopies and other brief diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and results are expected early next year.
Guilford aims to capitalize on a growing market for such products, said Dean Mitchell, the company's chief executive. More than 50 million such procedures already are conducted each year, and the number is rising as baby boomers age and technological advances allow an increasing range of procedures to be conducted on an outpatient basis.
"We believe that Aquavan has significant commercial potential," Mitchell said in a statement. "The acquisition of ProQuest, therefore, represents an important final step in securing Guilford's rights to this drug on a global basis."
The pending sale, already approved by the boards of both companies, would provide owners of privately-held ProQuest with about 1.5 million shares of Guilford common stock, based upon the 30-day average closing price leading up to two days before closing.
Guilford shares closed Thursday at $5.55, up 2 cents, on the Nasdaq National Market. During the previous 30 days, the stock's high was $5.64 and low was $4.25.
KU's Center for Research owns about 10 percent of ProQuest, putting it in line for stock worth about $700,000. KU plans to keep the stock, but half of the proceeds from a future sale of KU's stake would go to the product's team of inventors, led by professors Val Stella and Gunda Georg; 25 percent would go the KU's Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Higuchi Biosciences Center; and the remaining 25 percent would go to the Center for Research to help cover costs of patents, licensing and other regulatory support.
"When the smoke clears, the Center for Research itself is not making money on these deals," Roberts said. "We pump all that money back into prosecuting new patents and new deals."