New Jersey’s Talented Pharmaceutical Workforce, Net Operating Loss Program Support Celsion Corporation’s Quest to Commercialize Cancer Drugs
Michael Tardugno cites New Jersey's talented biopharmaceutical workforce as the main reason he relocated Celsion Corporation from Maryland to New Jersey.
TRENTON, N.J. (January 3, 2019) – Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ: CLSN) Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Michael H. Tardugno relocated his biopharmaceutical company to Lawrenceville from Maryland in 2011 with one main goal in mind: developing and commercializing life-saving chemotherapies and immunotherapies by recruiting top talent from within New Jersey’s vast pool of pharmaceutical experts.
Now Celsion has an added weapon in its fight against cancer. The company recently announced it had been approved to receive $10.6 million through the State’s Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program, more commonly known as the Net Operating Loss, or NOL, Program.
Jointly administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the State’s Department of Treasury’s Division of Taxation, the NOL Program enables eligible technology and life-sciences companies to sell their New Jersey net operating losses and unused research and development (R&D) tax credits to unrelated profitable corporations for cash. Celsion was one of 14 companies to participate in the NOL Program for the first time in 2018 and was among a total of 48 companies that were approved to share $60 million through the program last year.
Celsion is developing products that could combat liver and ovarian cancer. ThermoDox®, Celsion’s lead product candidate, is in Phase III clinical trials for use in liver cancer patients who have not previously undergone treatment. The therapy, which is delivered by intravenous infusion, is used in combination with heat-based treatments to target the cancerous cells. Additionally, Celsion’s immunotherapy drug, GEN-1, is in Phase I/II clinical trials for newly-diagnosed patients with ovarian cancer.
“New Jersey is the cradle of civilization for the pharmaceutical industry,” Tardugno said. “Locating here gives us the best opportunity to recruit top talent, the goal of which is to complete our global development programs and to commercialize our products. Both liver and ovarian cancer take far too many lives each year, making the work we are doing essential to the global marketplace.”
Tardugno, who previously served as Senior Vice President of Technical Operations Worldwide for a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb, knows the many benefits of bringing his company to the Garden State. The move puts Celsion closer to 13 of the world’s 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies that have a presence in New Jersey. The state is also home to 12 of the top 22 R&D companies. In addition, New Jersey boasts numerous world-renowned research institutions, over 400 biotechnology companies, and the highest concentration of scientists and engineers per square mile than any other state.
“Reclaiming New Jersey’s role as a leader in innovation starts with ensuring that companies like Celsion have the resources they need to do industry-leading work,” said Brian Sabina, NJEDA Senior Vice President – Office of Economic Transformation. “Through programs like NOL, we are investing not only in these emerging companies but also in New Jersey’s economic future.”
@NewJerseyEDA spoke with Tardugno about his company's experience in New Jersey:
How did Celsion benefit from funding it received through the NOL Program?
Raising capital to support clinical research through the sale of equity is always challenging for a biotechnology company, and particularly now given the recent volatility that we have seen in the capital markets. New Jersey’s NOL Program affords Celsion access to a unique, non-dilutive alternative financing structure that not only assures continuity of our research, it also reinforces the stability of our workforce and shareholder base. We could not be more pleased with the commitment that New Jersey has made to our company.
What do you consider Celsion’s biggest success to date?
Celsion has completed enrollment of the OPTIMA Study, a 550-patient global Phase III pivotal trial of ThermoDox to treat patients with primary liver cancer, the largest unmet medical need remaining in oncology. Our small company, based right here in central New Jersey, is conducting this study in 14 companies, across 17 time zones, in nine languages. A challenging study by any standard or measure, it is made more achievable by our location, giving us immediate access to world-class contract research organizations and experienced talent, as well as easy access to the Wall St. investment community. We are deeply proud of this accomplishment since it represents an opportunity to bring a potential curative treatment to patients with a life-limiting cancer to virtually every corner of the planet.
What’s on the horizon for your company?
We have two platform technologies at clinical stage. ThermoDox, based on our chemotherapy platform, has the potential to revolutionize the care of patients with early stage solid tumor cancers. Our second platform employs DNA segments and carries Celsion into the future of medicine. GEN-1, our gene mediated immunotherapy, brings the entire apparatus of the body’s immune defenses to bear on aggressive and deadly malignancies like ovarian cancer. Studies to date are very encouraging. If either or both of these product candidates are successful, we expect a blockbuster outcome and Celsion will enter the commercial phase of its lifecycle, fulfilling our ambition to become a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company.
About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.