November 10, 2012 @ 10:22 am

ProNAi Expands Management Team and Presents Encouraging Phase I Study Results for Lead Cancer Drug at Cancer Meeting


PLYMOUTH, MI–November 9, 2012 – ProNAi Therapeutics, Inc., a private DNAi cancer drug development company, recently concluded its initial human clinical trial of PNT2258, a first-­‐in-­‐class, nucleic acid drug. It is presenting the results of the Phase I study of PNT2258, an anti-­‐Bcl-­‐2 cancer drug, at the annual EORTC-­‐NCI-­‐ AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, a conference hosted by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the National Cancer Institute and the American Association for Cancer Research.

The company also expanded its management team with the recent appointments of board member and venture capital investor Mina Sooch, MBA, as President and CEO, and Dr. Richard Messmann, MD, as Chief Medical Officer.


“The encouraging clinical results from our 22 patient study, conducted at START in Texas, showed we can achieve exposure levels in humans that were many times the level needed to achieve anti-­‐tumor effect in animals without significant liver or blood platelet toxicity. We also demonstrated statistically significant, dose-­‐ dependent, and specific knockdown of the Bcl-­‐2 gene with suppression of protein levels up to 60 percent,” said Dr. Messmann. “Patients received the drug for extended periods of time without having material side effects seen with other anti-­‐ Bcl-­‐2 drugs or nucleic acid cancer drugs in development. These results indicate that we can administer the drug either as a single agent or potentially in combination with other anti-­‐cancer drugs without adding patient side effects.”


“PNT2258 represents the first of many targeted drugs in ProNAi’s portfolio that utilize its emerging DNA interference platform called DNAi,” added Sooch. “We look forward to rapidly expanding PNT2258’s clinical development to confirm efficacy in patients with Bcl-‐2-­‐driven tumors, such as diffuse large B-­‐cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We also anticipate eventual development into other solid tumors such as cancers of the lung, head and neck, and sarcomas. ProNAi continues to pursue both venture capital funding and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to advance these promising potential therapies for cancer. ProNAi is proud to be a pioneer in nucleic acid therapeutics by overcoming the drug delivery challenges of RNA and DNA based therapies as it has demonstrated safe and effective systemic delivery beyond the liver in humans.”


Prior to joining ProNAi, Mina Sooch, who has more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and M&A after receiving her MBA from Harvard University, helped co-­‐found Apjohn Ventures Fund and several biotech start-­‐ups.


Dr. Messmann, who has over 20 years extensive clinical experience as a medical oncologist and drug-­‐development physician, recently served as Vice President of Medical Affairs for Endocyte [ECYT] where he led the development of vintafolide for ovarian cancer through successful late stage clinical trials. The executive management team is rounded out by Dr. Wendi Rodrigueza, Chief Scientific Officer (formerly Novartis, Curagen, and Esperion), and ProNAi scientific advisors, led by Dr. Bruce Zetter of Harvard Medical School.


About PNT2258
PNT2258 is a 24-­‐mer, single stranded, chemically unmodified (i.e., native) DNA oligonucleotide sequence called PNT100 encapsulated in a specialized anionic and pH “tunable” liposome. PNT2258, which is delivered via a 2 hour infusion, has a long half‐life of several days allowing it to infiltrate cancer cells, release into the nucleus, and initiate apoptosis by silencing the Bcl-­‐2 target gene.


About ProNAi
ProNAi Therapeutics Inc. is a venture backed biotechnology company based in Plymouth and Kalamazoo Michigan. The novel DNAi drug platform is proprietary to ProNAi. Unlike many RNA products (antisense, RNAi, microRNA, etc) that work in the cytoplasm of a cell, DNAi drugs are designed to target sequences that reside in the non-­‐coding regions of the genome and block transcription in the nucleus, thereby silencing the gene of interest at the source. DNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat cancer and other genetic diseases with an innovative and targeted approach.


This press release contains “forward-­looking statements” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and involve significant risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements.


Mina Sooch


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November 8, 2011 @ 1:12 am

Michigan Venture Capital Association appoints 2012 Board of Directors, recognizes members at Annual Dinner

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) celebrated a year of individual, company, and statewide industry achievement at its Annual Dinner held November 7 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Over 145 members of the Michigan venture community attended the evening event, where incoming Chairman Tim Petersen introduced members of the organization’s 2012 Board of Directors. They include:
• Tim Petersen (Chairman), Arboretum Ventures
• Ron Reed (Vice Chairman/Past Chairman), Seneca Partners
• Jim Adox, (Vice-Chairman/Treasurer), Venture Investors
• Jeff Bocan, Beringea
• Hugo Braun, North Coast Technology Investors
• Pete Farner, TGap Ventures
• Mark Horne, Plymouth Management Company
• Tom Kinnear, U-M Ross School of Business Zell Lurie Institute
• Jon Lauckner, GM Ventures
• Chris Rizik, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
• Skip Simms, Ann Arbor SPARK
• Mina Sooch, Apjohn Ventures
• Jody Vanderwel, Grand Angels
• Ken Van Heel, Dow Chemical Company
• Donald Walker, Arbor Partners

Pete Farner, Mark Horne and Jon Lauckner are new to the board and begin three-year terms while former director John McIlwraith of Blue Chip Venture Company completes his board involvement after a six-year term.

“It was a wonderful evening that really celebrated the best of the best in our industry,” said Merrill Guerra, Executive Director of the MVCA. “We’re pleased so many venture investors, portfolio company executives, development officials and other supporters could join us, showing the growth and success the venture capital community has demonstrated in Michigan.”

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February 8, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

MVCA Roundtable: VC & C- Level Executive Breakfast

Michigan entrepreneurs Rob Malan (Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Arbor Networks), Ted Dacko (Former President and CEO, HealthMedia Founder, Arbor Dakota Strategies), Josh Linkner (Founder and Chairman, ePrize Managing Director, Detroit Venture Partners), and Tim Mayleben (President & CEO, Aastrom Biosciences) joined moderator Mina Sooch for a lively panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of running a venture-backed business in Michigan.

All panelists agreed that Michigan is a good place to start a business, but cited lack of talent and capital as issues for our state’s entrepreneurs.  Linkner empathized the importance of culture in creating a valuable and sustaining business, while Dacko discussed how measurable outcomes were vital.   Mayleben talked about marathon fundraising campaigns he underwent at Esperion and also named talent attraction as the biggest challenge he sees in locating a life sciences business in Michigan.  Malan envies California’s non-enforceable non-compete law and suggests that Michigan adopt a similar position to encourage serial entrepreneurialism.

The panelists were:

Ted Dacko
Former President and CEO, HealthMedia
Founder, Arbor Dakota Strategies
Ted Dacko, the founder of Arbor Dakota Strategies, has more than 36 years of experience in executive-level management and leadership, principally in the area of software applications and solutions. His career has primarily been spent following the founder where, as CEO, he has been credited with taking great ideas and turning them into great companies.

Most recently, Ted was CEO of HealthMedia® Inc., which he took from a small, near-death company to a $30M annual SaaS business. The company was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2008 and resulted in an 18 to 1 return on invested capital for Chrysalis Ventures in a six year time frame and a 10 to 1 return on invested capital for Arboretum Ventures which invested a short time later. This was accomplished during the worst economic time in recent history.

Josh Linkner
Founder and Chairman, ePrize
Managing Director, Detroit Venture Partners
As the founder and CEO of ePrize, Josh Linkner has led a revolution by dislodging the old guard and dominating the industry through disruptive innovation and creativity.  ePrize has produced over 5,000 industry-leading interactive promotions across 36 countries, for 74 of the Top 100 brands including Coca-Cola, at&t, The Gap, Procter & Gamble, Disney, Dell, adidas, Citibank and Microsoft. ePrize has won dozens of awards including Red Herring’s Top 100 Technology Firms in North America, Inc. 500 (five years in a row), #1 fastest-growing on PROMO 100, Fast Company’s Fast 50 Reader’s Choice, and 101 best places to work in Michigan.

Josh has won several business, technology, and design awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Crain’s 40 under 40, and Automation Alley’s CEO of the Year. His highly-anticipated second Book – Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System for Breakthrough Creativity – is due out in February, 2011 (Wiley / Jossey-Bass). The book offers a 5-part process that will transform your organization – or your career – into a non-stop creativity juggernaut.

Rob Malan
Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, Arbor Networks
Rob brings over twenty years of research experience in computer networking and security to Arbor Networks. Rob, whose thesis work at the University of Michigan formed the basis for Arbor Networks’ technology, is the author of the company’s patents. Rob has successfully transitioned technology from research prototype to product during his tenure in industry, which includes work at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard. Rob began his networking career working as a researcher on the Mach operating system project at Carnegie Mellon. He has authored 18 papers published in top-tier computer security and networking journals and conference proceedings. Rob holds a Ph.D. and MSE in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon.

Tim Mayleben
President & CEO, Aastrom Biosciences
Tim joined Aastrom as a member of the Aastrom’s board of directors in June 2005. Previously he was an advisor to life science and healthcare companies through his advisory and investment firm, ElMa Advisors. He was formerly president, chief operating officer and a director of NightHawk Radiology Holdings, Inc.  Mr. Mayleben also served as chief operating officer of Esperion Therapeutics, where he led the raising of more than $200 million in venture capital and institutional equity funding and later negotiated the acquisition of Esperion by Pfizer in February 2004. Mr. Mayleben is on the advisory board of the Wolverine Venture Fund and serves as a director for several private life science companies. He holds an MBA with distinction from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in business administration from the University of Michigan Ross Business School.

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November 1, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

NEWS RELEASE: Michigan Venture Capital Association celebrated award winners, appoints 2011 Board of Directors at annual dinner Nov. 15

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Celebrating “A Year of Exits”, the Michigan Venture Capital Association held its annual awards dinner for its members and guests November 15 in Ann Arbor.  The statewide membership organization honored several Michigan venture firms as well as venture capital recipient companies for their successes:

  • MVCA “Michigan 100” Award winner Cerenis Therapeutics of Ann Arbor, for raising over $100 million in venture capital;
  • Michigan’s new venture firms: Huron River Ventures, Michigan Accelerator Fund Management, and Resonant Ventures;
  • Multiple venture capital investment exits, both non-Michigan companies with Michigan venture investors and Michigan-based companies:

o   LenSx Lasers (Venture Investors)

o   Greenplum (EDF Ventures)

o   ZyStor (Apjohn Ventures & Venture Investors)

o   CardioMEMS (Arboretum Ventures)

o   Ikano Therapeutics (Apjohn Ventures)

o   Arbor Networks (EDF Ventures)

o   HandyLab (EDF Ventures, Wolverine Venture Fund, Arboretum Ventures, Ardesta Capital, Dow Venture Capital)

Jeff Williams, former CEO of HandyLab and current CEO of venture-backed Accuri Cytometers, was named MVCA Entrepreneur of the Year.


“The wind is in our sails,” stated LeAnn Auer, Executive Director of the MVCA, in her remarks before the dinner.  “It’s been a year of exits, as many of our venture capital firms have successfully exited portfolio companies located both here in Michigan and elsewhere.  In addition, venture capital financings have already exceeded 2009 levels.  These successes bode well for future growth in our community.  I’m looking forward to this year’s celebration.”

The Michigan Venture Capital Association will also announce its 2011 Board of Directors:

  • Ron Reed (Chairman), Managing Director, Seneca Partners
  • Tom Kinnear (Vice-Chairman/Treasurer), Managing Director, Zell Lurie Institute at U-M Ross School of Business
  • Tim Petersen (Vice Chairman/Chairman-Elect), Managing Director, Arboretum Ventures
  • Uzma Ahmad (Board Secretary), Attorney, Dykema Gossett PLLC
  • Jim Adox, Managing Director, Venture Investors
  • Jeff Bocan, Managing Director, Beringea
  • Hugo Braun, Co-Founder, North Coast Technology Investors
  • Greg Main, President & CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • John McIlwraith, Managing Director, Allos Ventures
  • Chris Rizik, CEO & Fund Manager, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund
  • Skip Simms, Managing Director, Ann Arbor SPARK
  • Mina Sooch Partner, Triathlon Medical Ventures; Managing Director, Apjohn Ventures
  • Jody Vanderwel, President, Grand Angels
  • Ken Van Heel, Director, Alternative Investments & Venture Capital, Dow Chemical Company
  • Donald Walker, Managing Director, Arbor Partners

About the MVCA

The MVCA is a trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry participants in the state of Michigan.  The organization’s goal is to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.  Membership includes private venture capital funds, corporate venture capital funds, private equity firms, angel investors, and entrepreneurial infrastructure participants.  The MVCA is a vehicle to bring together industry participants and to provide a concerted voice for Michigan’s venture capital industry.

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The MVCA is a non-profit trade organization designed to bring together venture capital industry participants in the state of Michigan. The organization's goal is to grow and sustain a vibrant venture capital community in Michigan.
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