BioLineRx, a Jerusalem-based drug development company, has opened its first US representative office in Maryland in an effort to pursue partnerships with global pharmaceutical companies. "For the purpose of expansion we formed BioLineRx USA, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of BioLineRx, a couple of months ago. As our compounds are now maturing we are seeking to partner those compounds with large pharmaceutical companies," Yuri Shoshan, vice president of finance and corporate development at BioLineRx, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview ahead of Thursday's announcement. "We are also looking to expand clinical activities to US sites and seek licensing agreements with US research institutions." BioLineRx USA's business development office will be located in Rockville, the second largest city in Maryland, where the company has already hired a local business development executive. "The rapid expansion and advancement of our clinical and pre-clinical pipeline now puts us in a prime position to enter into strategic alliances and partnership collaborations, specifically for BL-1020, for the treatment of schizophrenia, currently in Phase 2 testing, and for BL-1040, for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, in Phase 1/2 testing," said Morris C. Laster, CEO of BioLineRx, which went public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in February. "At this point it has become essential to strengthen our business development efforts to help us evolve to the next stage. Maryland, with its leading research institutions and biomedical industry, was a natural choice for opening our US subsidiary." The announcement came after Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley met with Laster and the BioLineRx management team at the Israel Biomed 2008 Conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. Founded in 2003 by Teva Pharmaceuticals and venture capital firms Giza Venture Capital, Pitango Venture Capital and Hadasit, BioLineRx has partnered with researchers, universities and biotech companies to further the commercialization of promising drugs from early stage discovery and to lead generation to advanced clinical trials. "Our wealth of cutting edge bioscience companies, our world-class public and private sector research centers and our highly educated and talented workforce makes Maryland a natural fit for a company on the move like BioLineRx," O'Malley said. "We look forward to working with BioLineRx to further its mission of developing new drugs that offer hope to millions of people around the world."