Scientist & CEO: Celator’s Janoff

Prolong: Making Taking Drugs Safer

Liposome to Sopherion

Deer Park Move-Ins: PChem’s RFID Nano

VaxInnat-ing for Flu

Maternity Leave Suit

New Scudders Bridge


Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared by Barbara Fox for the May 18, 2005

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

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Scientist & CEO: Celator’s Janoff

Smart money likes Celator Technologies, which aims to create a new

medical standard for chemotherapy by controlling the ratios of various

chemo therapeutic agents. It remains to be seen whether the big

pharmaceutical companies will embrace this standard.

Celator, headquartered in Research Park, has raised a whopping $40

million for its oncology technology. Among the investors were Domain

Associates, venture capitalist at Palmer Square, and the Garden State

Life Sciences Venture Fund, a fund managed by Quaker Bioventures in

which the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is the sole

limited partner. This round of funding represents one of the largest

venture capital investments in biotechnology in the North America for

the last 12 months.

"We are pleased to announce this initial investment, positioning

Celator to advance its innovative oncopharmaceutical technology in New

Jersey with financial support from our fund," said EDA Chief Executive

Officer Caren S. Franzini in a prepared statement.

"I believe we have raised this amount of money because the investors

understand it enables us to introduce a new medical standard," says

CEO Andrew Janoff. "At the end of the day it allows us to produce

products to more effectively treat cancer."

Celator began in 2000 as a spinoff of the British Columbia Cancer

Agency with a laboratory in Vancouver. With the second round of

funding, it moved the headquarters to Princeton, where it plans to

build its pharmaceutical, clinical, and development operation. "It is

the heart of pharma in North America," says Janoff. "That’s how we

will implement an aggressive R&D schedule."

Celator named Janoff chairman and CEO in 2002. A Yardley resident, he

divides his time between this office and the company’s Canadian

headquarters. Known as a founder of the Liposome Company (later bought

by Elan), he went to American University and has a PhD in biophysics

from Michigan State. Currently he is an adjunct professor at Thomas

Jefferson University Medical College, is a visiting research

collaborator in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Princeton

University, and is editor of the Journal of Liposome Research.

The technology that everyone is so enthusiastic about is elegantly

simple. Known as CombiPlex, it takes current chemotherapeutic agents

and reconfigures the combinations. This approach seeks to modify the

existing cancer chemotherapy discovery process by fixing the ratios at

which drug combinations act to kill tumor cells.

"Our proprietary technology recognizes and controls the critical role

of drug ratios in combinations of chemotherapies," Janoff says. "Most

cancers are treated with combos of drugs. These ‘cocktails’ are

developed by combining agents of non-overlapping toxicity so that each

can be given at maximum dose. We think that standard is out of date

because it fails to recognize the role of drug ratios."

Chemotherapy agents, he says, can act synergistically at ideal ratios.

"We lock them in carriers to maintain the ratios and treat the cancer

systematically." Carriers could be liposomes, polymers, or


"Before, oncologists did not focus on ratios nor did they have the

ability to maintain them," says Janoff. The ratios will be decided by

in vitro tests and use of algorhythms, he says.

Janoff has staked out a surprisingly broad territory for his

intellectual property. He claims that even the general concept – the

idea that using a ratio might be useful – has a potential patent,

which means that any pharma who wants to use the idea will have to pay

for it. Among the 18 patents that have been applied for include some

on how to compute the ratio, and some that tell how to deliver the

combined drugs.

"First we’ll focus on generic combos for tumors that are inadequately

treated," says Janoff. "Building on that focus, we will develop new

combinations of existing drugs, then develop combos from entirely new

drug agents. We have an almost unlimited pipe line." Phase I trials

for colorectal cancer are being conducted in Canada at McGill

University and the British Columbia Cancer Agency.

Janoff believes the $40 million cash infusion will take the first

product, for colorectal cancer, through phase II trials, and the

second product (for acute myeloid leukeumia) into phase II trials, and

the third product (a platinum combination) into phase I trials.

Janoff professes not to be worried where ensuing dollars will come

from because he is counting on pharma companies to do licenses,

partnerships, and joint ventures. But having been burnt numerous

times, the pharma companies can be expected to adopt a "wait and see"

stance. For oncology, the "wait and see" time frame can be an extended


If Celator does succeed in eventually establishing a new standard of

chemotherapy, the pharma companies will have no choice but to get in

line to buy it. And Janoff does not rule out going public if the Phase

II results are excellent.

"The level of interest we have seen in this current round of funding

is extraordinary. Investors appreciate that the company will introduce

a new medical standard and create an entire new generation of

products," claims Janoff. Nicole Vitullo of Domain Associates and

Brenda Gavin of Quaker BioVentures are now on Celator’s board, as is

another new investor, Marc Ostro of TL Ventures. Like Janoff, Ostro is

a Liposome Company veteran; Ostro was Liposome’s first employee.

Early funders who also contributed included Ventures West, Growthworks

Capital, and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Celator won’t save any time in the approval process by employing

already-approved drugs. "We have limited the risk somewhat because we

are dealing with drugs and combos already approved and accepted as

standard of care for tumors, but we can make the combinations five to

10 times more effective," says Janoff. "It’s a real privilege to work

in this area because ultimately we can do a lot of good."

Celator Technologies Corp., 1 Airport Place, Princeton

08540. Andrew Janoff, CEO. 609-430-1100; fax, 609-430-9995. Home page:

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Prolong: Making Taking Drugs Safer

After starting and selling Enzon – New Jersey’s first successful

biotech – and after incubating his next company at his home, Abe

Abuchowski is taking Prolong Pharmaceuticals to the next level. He

based both Enzon and Prolong on a breakthrough discovery in his PhD

thesis on how polyethylene glycol (PEG), a unique polymer, can be

attached to proteins to deliver drugs in more effective, less toxic


Earlier this year he moved the two-person Prolong from a small lab in

Lucent’s former complex at Carter Road to 3,300 feet on Deer Park

Drive, where he expects to hire two more people in a couple of weeks.

The firm is financed by Manhattan-based KVL Healthcare Ventures to the

tune of $1.5 million, and Abuchowski envisions an additional $6.5

million coming in.

Abuchowski’s claims have the ring of believability. Sometimes known as

the "godfather of biotechnology in New Jersey," he grew up on a

chicken farm in Vineland, went to Rutgers Camden, Class of 1970, and

earned his Rutgers PhD. In 1994 he helped found the Biotechnology

Council of New Jersey and was its first chairman. He and his wife (a

PhD communications candidate at Rutgers) live in Califon and have two


Abuchowski’s PEGylation technology attaches the special polymer to a

protein to extend the circulating life of a drug; this combination

requires smaller amounts of the drug, eliminates allergy problems, and

alleviates the active ingredient’s toxicity. "PEGylation solves those

problems in one fell swoop," he says.

Enzon was the state’s first biotech to get FDA approval for a new

product; among its successful drugs are Oncospar, which countermands

the severe allergic reaction experienced by children receiving

leukemia treatments, and an interferon formula, licensed to Schering

Plough, which has captured 65 percent of the market.

Abuchowski sold the Piscataway-based Enzon in 1996, opened New

Paradigm Consulting, and started plans for Prolong Pharmaceuticals,

all from a home office where he was able to be with his children, now

in high school and college. "I was able to see my kids grow up," he


Abuchowski moved to Princeton Corporate Plaza, more than an hour’s

drive from Califon, because there wasn’t an appropriate laboratory

closer to his home. Triad Properties helped Abuchowski find the space

and the landlord, Harold Kent, whom Abuchowski terms "fantastic."

One future product with a huge potential market is erythropoietin, a

lucrative biopharmaceutical that stimulates the pre-cursors of red

blood cells to combat anemia. Anemia typically accompanies

chemotherapy. The two current erythropoietin products (Amgen’s Epogen

and Johnson & Johnson’s Procrit) have combined sales of nearly $7

billion, but the patents are short-lived. Abuchowski has developed a

PEGylated version of erythropoietin (PEG-EPO) that he expects will

quickly penetrate the market and outpace competitors.

Also in the pipeline are products for liver cancer and hypovolemic

shock, bleeding that can occur on battlefields. For the latter

condition, AfterShock has a PEGylated hemoglobin base and would be

injected into the blood.

Abuchowski also expects to be able help big pharmaceuticals with other

patents for blockbuster drugs that are scheduled to expire.

Didn’t Abuchowski’s own patents expire? Yes, he says, "but I have the

know how. The people who do well with this technology are the people

who have experience in applying it."

-Barbara Fox

Prolong Pharmaceuticals, 7 Deer Park Drive, Suite F,

Monmouth Junction 08852. Abraham Abuchowski, CEO. 732-438-1133; fax,


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Liposome to Sopherion

Sopherion Therapeutics, a biotech that focuses on anti-cancer

therapies, has its own strong connection to the former Liposome

Company. After the sale of Liposome to Elan, and after the FDA failed

to approve a breast cancer drug called Myocet, the drug found its way

to a new company, Sopherion. Sopherion’s CEO, Ronald H. Goldfarb,

landed $47 million in Series B venture funding and moved the firm to

Princeton Overlook late last year.

One of the lead investors in the Series B funding was Marc Ostro,

co-founder and president of the former Liposome Company, now a Main

Line-based venture capitalist with TL Ventures.

Goldfarb negotiated an exclusive licensing agreement with Zeneus

Pharma Ltd. to commercialize Myocet in North America with hopes of

launching it in Canada by the end of June. Myocet still has to

traverse the regulatory path in the United States.

Myocet contains doxorubicin, which can be dangerously toxic to heart

muscles. Myocet reduces the toxicity by encapsulating the

doxorubicin-citrate combination in a liposome (a microscopic vesicle

with separate compartments, each with membrane walls composed of

fats). Myocet has been approved in Canada for first line therapy in

combination with cyclophosphamide for patients with metastatic breast


"Having worked on the development of this therapy at the Liposome

Company, I understand its significant potential impact on patients not

only suffering from metastatic breast cancer, but also a wide variety

of other neoplasms," said Ostro in a prepared statement.

In addition to TL Ventures, contributors included the Sprout Group,

ProQuest, Canaan Partners, HealthCap, NewSpring Ventures, Commerce

Health Ventures, and Seaflower Ventures.

Sopherion Therapeutics Inc., 100 Overlook Center, Suite

100, Princeton 08540. Ronald H. Goldfarb, CEO. 609-986-2022; fax,

609-986-2038. Home page:

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Deer Park Move-Ins: PChem’s RFID Nano

Chemical engineers Gregg Jablonski and Michael A. Mastropietro opened

an office last year at Princeton Corporate Plaza to develop nano

particles for printed electronics – circuit boards, RFID, antenna, or

interconnect systems. Their company: PChem. So far it has two major

clients (including Sun Chemical and a Japanese firm) and just signed a

licensing agreement with a Pennsylvania firm for producing RFID tags.

Patents were filed last year on PChem’s nano powder and more are

forthcoming. "Instead of a straight printing process, we use a

build-up process, where our material is used as a seed layer," says


The three-person firm estimates this year’s sales to be $900,000 and

projects that the break-even point will be in 2007, with $1.4 million

in sales. It is competing this month for angel investment through

Jumpstart New Jersey and has applied for a Ben Franklin Technology

Partnership, which, if it comes through, could trigger a move to


"Based on the simplicity of how it is made, we think our material is

commercially competitive," says Jablonski. "Our competitors have more

processing steps," says Jablonski. Another advantage is that PChem’s

particles are water based. "Environmentally it is safer than a solvent

system using a flammable chemical – it processes faster and achieves

higher conductivity than competitive matrial."

Jablonski grew up in New Hampshire, where his father taught math,

majored in chemical engineering at the University of New Hampshire,

Class of 1980, and has a PhD from Worcester Polytechnic. He worked for

DuPont in Philadelphia and did R&D for Mobil in Paulsboro, then moved

to Mobil Chemical in 1996. Jablonski’s wife works for Merrill Lynch

on the Hopewell campus.

Both Jablonski and Mastropietro, a chemical engineer from Penn State,

Class of 1998, worked for Paul Kydd on Crescent Drive at Princeton

Business Park in Rocky Hill. Kydd founded Partnerships Ltd., which

later became Paralec, and Kydd is also working in the RFID arena.

"Mike and I saw the opportunity in dealing with smaller particles,"

says Jablonski. They are developing the particles on Deer Park Drive

and can produce up to 50 kilograms per month here. "When we get to

larger scale manufacturing, hopefully in the near future, we will need

to expand." The firm would require an additional 10,000 square feet to

manufacture up to 500 kilograms per month.

Jack Kerrins, just hired as chief operating officer, went to College

of New Jersey, Class of 1976, and the University of Delaware. He has

taken two companies public – Newtown-based ICT, an outsourcing firm

with businesses on four continents, and Manhattan-based

John Belasko of Fox Rothschild is the firm’s attorney, and Buzz

Woodworth, of Woodworth Realty LLC, secured the space on Deer Park


Offers to get grants by staying in New Jersey or moving to

Pennsylvania are frustrating, Jablonski says. He thinks the two states

should take a regional approach. Funding based on political

boundaries, he says, "drives me crazy. You are only talking about a

10-mile difference."

PChem Associates Inc., 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 207,

Monmouth Junction 08852. Gregg Jablonski, CEO. 732-329-0090;


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VaxInnat-ing for Flu

VaxInnate Corporation, a private biotechnology company in Cranbury

developing a vaccine for influenza and West Nile virus, has

established its corporate headquarters in Cranbury. VaxInnate is

developing proprietary technology that was created in 2000 by Yale

University-based Ruslan Medzhitov and Richard Flavell to produce

preventative vaccines and immune therapies for infectious disease and


VaxInnate employs 15 people at the 20,000 square foot corporate

facility it leases from A.M. Todd Associates on Cedar Brook Drive. The

facility provides 15,000 square feet of laboratory, production and

manufacturing space. Another 11 employees do research in New Haven,


"We decided to move our headquarters to New Jersey to be closer to

pharma country," says Nancy Gray, vice president of corporate

development and operations. "This location puts us closer to our

customers and potential employees."

Two programs currently in development include a West Nile virus

vaccine scheduled for Phase 1 clinical trials in mid-2006 and an

influenza vaccine scheduled for Phase 1 clinical trials in the first

quarter or 2006.

Gray leads the corporate facility along with David Jackson, vice

president of process development and manufacturing, and Jeff Powell,

vice president of research. CEO Carlo Russo has left the company for

personal reasons. A successor will be hired eventually but not

imminently, says Gray. The company recently hired two new employees

and has three open positions, with more to come.

Last year the company announced $23.1 million in Series B funding from

CHL Medical Partners in Princeton, which led the financing, and

HealthCare Ventures, Oxford Bioscience Partners, and MedImmune

Ventures. With cash on hand of $16 million, the company does not

intend to pursue financing anytime soon.

Gray, who joined VaxInnate last year, holds a BA in chemistry from

Bucknell, and a PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University of

Illinois. Prior to that she was employed by Delsys Pharmaceutical in

Monmouth Junction. She lives with her husband, Steven, and their two

daughters in Cranbury.

The technology differs from other vaccines in that VaxInnate combines

chemical structures of the adaptive immune system to interact with

structures that stimulate the innate immune system, to make a

stronger, longer lasting vaccine with a quicker onset. The company

holds patents, as well as patent applications for its innate immunity


Next steps include pre-clinical safety testing of both vaccines, as

well as producing the vaccines under good manufacturing practices


"Traditional vaccines stimulate the adaptive immune system. We don’t

just work with the adaptive system, we stimulate the innate immune

system, that every animal in the animal kingdom is born with, and

couple it with the adaptive system," says Gray.

-Fran Ianacone

VaxInnate, 3 Cedar Brook Drive, Cranbury 08512. David

Jackson, vice president. 609-860-2260; fax, 609-860-2290.

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Maternity Leave Suit

Nita Wright, a former senior manager of advertising and marketing at

RCN Telecom Services, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against her

former employer. "RCN intentionally retaliated against Ms. Wright for

exercising her family and medical leave rights," says Wright’s

attorney, Hanan Isaacs, based at Princeton Professional Park.

According to Isaacs, Wright gave birth to a baby girl in the fall of

2004, and while she was out on maternity leave she was told her job

had been eliminated. Isaacs claims that RCN transferred all of

Wright’s work to her back-up employee, posted a new job on the RCN

intranet, and filled the job with the back-up employee.

The attorney cites the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the New

Jersey Family Leave Act, and the "clear mandate of public policy."

"Since Nita was eminently qualified to perform both the ‘old’ and

‘new’ jobs, RCN had a duty to advise her of the opportunity to bid on

the new job," says Isaacs.

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New Scudders Bridge

Six years from now, commuters from Bucks County may be crossing over a

nine-lane bridge on I-95 at Scudder Falls instead of the congested

four-lane bridge there now.

The two-year construction project will cost $195 million and is

supposed to begin in 2009. It will widen the 50-foot bridge to nearly

140 feet. One of the five new lanes will be an exit lane for Route 29.

Three of the new lanes will be on the New Jersey-bound side, because

the morning commute is significantly worse than the evening one.

According to the schedule, four lanes of traffic will be available at

all times. When the new bridge has four usable lanes, the current

bridge will be taken down.

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Donald B. Everman, 61, on May 13. He was the owner and operator of

Signs Etc. at Princeton Service Center and was active in Rotary.

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