Biolex, long considered one of the potential stars in North Carolina’s biotechnology industry, has filed for bankruptcy.

Having raised some $160 million over the years, the company filed a Chapter 7 voluntary bankruptcy in federal court earlier this week.

Based in Pittsboro, Biolex listed debts of $38.1 million and assets of $803,000.

Of the assets, $3,000 was listed in a corporate checking account. 

The remaining $800,000 is being held in escrow as part of a contract with Synthon Biopharmaceuticals.

Investors in Biolex include Durham-based venture capital firm Intersouth Partners. It is listed as an “unsecured creditor,” owed some $5 million.

MidCap Financial is owed $2.3 million, which was secured by “all assets,” the bankruptcy filing says.

Biolex attempted to go public in 208 but withdrew the offering. Shortly thereafter the company raised $60 million in financing, believed to be the biggest venture round raised by a North Carolina firm at that time.

In 2010, the company raised another $10 million in a mixture of debt and venture funding.

Having failed to find a drug development partner, Biolex considered selling the company, its chief financial officer told The Triangle Business Journal in March.

In 2010, Chief Executive Officer Jan Turek said two clinical trials for the drug Locteron “serve to confirm each other, providing us with great confidence in the robustness of the results that have been attained to date.”

In raising the $60 million in 2008, Biolex said it would pay up to $149 million for all rights to the lead drug candidate it has under development.

Quaker BioVentures, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Investor Growth Capital, Polaris Ventures, Mitsui & Co., The Dow Chemical Company, JP Morgan Securities and the North Carolina Economic Development Fund were also investors in Biolex.

Biolex is developing a number of therapeutics based on the aquatic plant lemna. Its lead product, called Locteron, is a treatment for hepatitis C. It is in Phase II clinical trials. Biolex believes the drug will be a successful product in a $5 billion market for hepatitis C by the year 2014.

“This financing is designed to prepare Locteron for Phase III development, including the completion of ongoing and planned Phase II testing,” Turek said in the 2008 funding announcement. “

Intersouth owns some 20 percent of the company.