Oncor Inc. files for Chapter 11

Gaithersburg company has been struggling

Biotechnology

February 27, 1999|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Oncor Inc., the once promising Gaithersburg biotechnology company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., yesterday.

In its filing, the company listed $6.5 million in debts and $7.41 million in assets. Among the largest creditors: Johns Hopkins University, which is owed more than $473,000. Oncor had research agreements with Hopkins.

"The company intends to reorganize its financial affairs," Oncor's acting chief executive officer, Joseph Shaya, said in a statement issued by the company. Shaya could not be reached for additional comment yesterday.

The bankruptcy filing does not come as a surprise.

The 15-year-old company, which at one time attempted to position itself as a provider of pioneering cancer tests, has been suffering financially since at least March when it fired long-time CEO and founder Stephen Turner and disclosed that it had only enough cash to remain in business for a few months.

Since then, the company, which has never been profitable, has sold or surrendered most of its revenue and technology assets to meet debts.

The sell-off included its research products division, one of its strongest revenue-producing units, for $3.2 million. And in November, Oncor surrendered its chief technology asset -- a genetic test for the recurrence of cancer -- to a creditor that had called due a $4.1 million loan.

In turn, the unidentified creditor sold rights to Oncor's HER2/neu cancer test to Ventana Medical Systems Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., for $5.5 million.

Earlier this month, the company raised $1 million by selling all of the common shares it held in an affiliate, Appilgene Oncor SA in Paris, to Quantum Biotechnologies Inc. in Montreal.

According to the company's last financial report, dated Sept. 30, 1998, Oncor lost $20.9 million for the first nine months of its fiscal year on revenue of approximately $9.5 million.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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