Opko Health buys vax development platform

Opko Health has decided to move into vaccine development and diagnostics following a crucial clinical trial failure in opthalmology last March. Opko licensed a new platform technology from UT Southwestern Medical Center that is designed to help researchers swiftly identify small molecules that can be used to develop vaccines and accelerate the advancement of diagnostics.

''We've just been presented with so many wonderful opportunities,'' Opko's Phillip Frost told the Miami Herald. "We will still have an emphasis on ophthalmology, but we wanted to broaden the base.'' The platform, he added, "permits the identification of small molecules that can be used in vaccines, instead of the complicated molecules that were previously required.''

Frost has a successful record as an entrepreneur in the life sciences industry. Three years ago Frost sold IVAX for $1.2 billion in cash and stock. He formed Opko in 2007 after buying up two ophthalmology companies. But last March Frost was forced to shelve a late-stage therapy for macular degeneration after concluding that it was unlikely to succeed. That news sent Opko's shares into the cellar.

- read the report from the Miami Herald