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OHSU Spinoff Completes Initial Public Offering On NASDAQ

 A spinoff company based in part on the findings of Oregon Health & Science University's obesity research has completed its initial public offering. Recently, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. offered 8.05 million shares of common stock at the initial public offering price of $12 a share. The shares are being traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol "OREX."

Orexigen is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of pharmaceutical product candidates for the treatment of central nervous system disorders, with an initial focus on obesity. Michael Cowley,Ph.D., a scientist at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center, is co-founder of the San Diego-based company and serves as its chief scientific officer.

Cowley and his colleagues at OHSU and Duke University have made several key discoveries demonstrating the brain's role in weight regulation and the biological controls in the brain that affect weight gain and weight loss. Orexigen was founded based on some of these findings and the belief that serious obesity issues may be treated through pharmacotherapy.

Orexigen was established in 2002. Orexigen's lead combination product candidates targeted for obesity are Contrave(tm), which is in Phase III clinical trials, and Empatic(tm) (formerly Excalia(tm)), which is in a Phase IIb clinical trial.

The public offering of Orexigen stock follows some additional significant accomplishments by other OHSU spinoff companies. ProteoGenix, a company that has developed a test that could displace amniocentesis - currently the only procedure now available for diagnosing intra-amniotic infection - recently received $20 million in venture capital funding. This is considered a major step toward commercial viability for the company and its products. In other recent news, OHSU spinoff Artielle, which develops therapeutics for autoimmune diseases, received $11 million in venture capital.

Potential conflicts of interest involving OHSU investigators and OHSU startup companies are reviewed and managed by the OHSU Conflict of Interest in Research Committee and the Integrity Program Oversight Council.

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