Piper Alderman and Blake Dawson Waldron facilitated the transfer of core technology from the Biomolecular Research Institute (BRI) to Starpharma Holdings Limited, in exchange for 7.1 million Starpharma shares.
Piper Alderman partner Doug Robertson acted for BRI with Nicola Adams and John Maciel, and BDW partner Elspeth Arnold acted for Starpharma, with senior associate Tiffany Barton and Kellech Smith.
Barton said the technology that was transferred from BRI was fundamental to Starpharma’s flagship product, VivaGel. The product is in the second stage of human trials and is thought to prevent women from contracting HIV.
Effectively a lubricant that is applied before sex, Barton said VivaGel had advantages over condoms because the woman could control its use, and if not used with a spermicide, it would not prevent pregnancy.
Both BRI and Starpharma were established by the CSIRO. Previously, BRI held the technology and granted Starpharma a licence for its use. “Given the development Starpharma had [achieved with] VivaGel in relation to this technology, it made sense for it to go to Starpharma,” Barton said.
The deal was “quite complex”, she added, because the shareholding transferred to BRI was more than six per cent. “Because of the size of the parcel, it was agreed that it be subject to a 12 month holding lock.”
Shortly after the deal was completed, Starpharma announced it had received US$20 million ($27 million) to fund further development of the technology.
If the product does do everything for which it has shown potential, Barton says its development would be a “huge leap forward for women’s health”.