Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Former Immune Response Corp. files for liquidation

By BRADLEY J. FIKES - Staff Writer | Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:07 PM PDT ∞

CARLSBAD ---- The battered biotech company formerly known as The Immune Response Corp. finally has thrown in the towel.

Orchestra Therapeutics filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California. The company listed assets of $1.64 million and liabilities of $32.61 million.

Co-founded by the late Jonas Salk in 1986 to develop a vaccine to treat AIDS called Remune, Immune Response was one of North County's most famous biotech companies.

In the early '90s, as its vaccine showed signs of activity against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Immune Response became a Wall Street darling.

But the company failed in repeated attempts to prove Remune actually helped those infected with HIV. While its stock plummeted and investors lost interest, Immune Response kept searching for other products.

In April 2007, the company changed its name to Orchestra Therapeutics. The company's main hope was to develop a vaccine for multiple sclerosis, which it called NeuroVax.

But failing to make a profit through Remune, NeuroVax or any of its other drug candidates, Orchestra barely kept going, raising a few hundred thousand dollars at a time from various investors.

In its filing, Orchestra included a long list of creditor claims, including the city of Carlsbad, seeking $335; Delaware's Division of Corporations, seeking $288,000; Gazzard-St. Stephen's Research Ltd. in the U.K., seeking $195,000; Levit Zacks Accounting, seeking $59,000; the Nasdaq stock market, seeking $31,000; and Shred It in Vista, seeking an amount described as "unknown."

Contact staff writer Bradley J. Fikes at (760) 739-6641 or