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Heavyweight biotech entrepreneur Isaac Blech joins Medgenics board

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Medgenics (LON:MEDG) has strengthened its boardroom with the appointment of heavyweight biotech entrepreneur and investor Isaac Blech.

Blech, who is already a member of the company’s strategic advisory board, is a major investor in Medgenics, having ploughed $7 million into the company over the past year.

Blech, 61, is regarded as one of the most successful private financiers in the US biotechnology industry, founding seven companies, all of which were subsequently brought public.

They include Celgene Corporation, Genetic Systems Corporation, Icos Corporation, Nova Pharmaceuticals Corporation and PathoGenesis Corporation. These companies have been responsible for major advances in a number of diseases including the diagnosis and/or treatment of cancer, chlamydia, sexual dysfunction, cystic fibrosis and AIDS.  Their combined value is now in excess of $30 billion.

Medgenics is developing and commercializing Biopump, a proprietary tissue-based platform technology for the sustained production and delivery of therapeutic proteins using the patient's own skin biopsy for the treatment of a range of chronic diseases including anaemia, hepatitis C and haemophilia.

The company believes its approach has multiple benefits compared with current treatments, which include regular and costly injections of therapeutic proteins. It currently has three long-acting protein therapy products in development based on this technology. They include Epodure, now completing a Phase I/II dosing trial, and Infradure, which is scheduled to begin a Phase I/II trial in Israel.

Welcoming Blech on board, Andrew Pearlman, chief executive of Medgenics said: “Isaac’s in-depth experience in biotechnology commercialization and his impressive professional network should be instrumental in helping us build Medgenics into a leading biotechnology company….”

Blech said: "Medgenics is demonstrating its ability to use a patient's own tissue to create Biopumps that, when inserted back into that patient, are designed to deliver sustained production of the desired protein. This is potentially a major scientific and medical breakthrough which has the ability to change the treatment paradigm across a range of chronic diseases. I am delighted to be working with the Medgenics team and look forward to guiding them in the successful clinical development and commercialization of this powerful technology."

Blech currently has a 17.1 percent stake in the company.

Earlier this year, Medgenics listed on the New York market in a move designed to take advantage of the greater appetite for and appreciation of biotechnology companies.

Its shares opened in London this morning on 185p, valuing the company at £5.43 million. The shares have been as high as 358 over the last 12 months.

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