MedImmune Licenses Two New Cancer Technologies
Gaithersburg, MD, April 19, 2002 -- MedImmune, Inc. (Nasdaq: MEDI) today announced that it has signed agreements for two new cancer technologies, thus further expanding its oncology research and development activities.
MedImmune has licensed exclusive worldwide rights to technology targeting the enzyme Human Aspartyl (Asparaginyl) Beta-Hydroxylase (HAAH), which has been found to be over-expressed in a wide variety of primary tumor tissues, including cancers of the pancreas, breast, ovary, liver, colon, prostate, lung, brain, and bile duct. The HAAH technology is being developed by Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company located in Rockville, Maryland. Recent findings in preclinical studies have indicated that the over-expression of HAAH induces tumor formation, and that inhibition of HAAH function in the cancer cell limits the growth of the tumor.
MedImmune has separately licensed exclusive worldwide rights to technology targeting PC-cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF), which is expressed by breast cancer cells that respond to estrogen therapies, and to an even greater extent, by breast cancer cells that have become resistant to estrogen therapies. The PCGDF technology is being developed by A&G Pharmaceutical, Inc., a private biotechnology company located in Baltimore, Maryland. Preclinical studies to date demonstrate that inhibition of PCGDF expression inhibits breast cancer cell growth, as well as reduces the ability of certain breast cancer cells to become hormone resistant.
"We are very excited with the opportunity to expand our research pipeline with two new promising oncology programs," said Peter Kiener, D.Phil., MedImmune's vice president, research. "We plan to work closely with our new partners at Panacea and A&G to develop therapeutic products that will potentially offer significant advances in cancer treatment."
As a part of its agreements with Panacea and A&G Pharmaceuticals, MedImmune made an equity investment in each company, made up-front payments, and will pay future potential royalties. MedImmune will fund research and development activities for both programs, and will have sole responsibility for future potential commercialization activities.
About MedImmune's Oncology Business
Since 1999, MedImmune has been building its oncology business, which now includes several preclinical-stage technologies (HAAH, PCDGF and the EphA2 research program); an expanding clinical program for Vitaxin(TM), a monoclonal antibody targeting alpha-v-beta-3; and a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. MedImmune sells its first cancer product, Ethyol® (amifostine), through its own 60-person oncology sales force.
Ethyol is a unique product that has the potential to address substantial markets in oncology. It is used to reduce unwanted toxicities caused by certain anti-cancer treatments. Currently, Ethyol is approved as a chemoprotective agent to reduce the cumulative kidney toxicities associated with repeated administration of cisplatin in patients with advanced ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. It has also been approved for use in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. In this patient population, Ethyol has been demonstrated to limit the degree of xerostomia (dry mouth), an often severe and irreversible side effect of radiation therapy caused by damage to the salivary glands. (Full prescribing information for Ethyol is available at www.medimmune.com.) MedImmune has also dedicated additional research and clinical resources to evaluate new opportunities for the product, including subcutaneous administration and the reduction of mucositis in lung cancer patients.
In 1995, MedImmune began developing a virus-like particle based vaccine to prevent disease caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV has been shown to cause cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. MedImmune's multi-valent vaccine targets the HPV types believed to cause a majority of cervical cancers. The vaccine, now in Phase II clinical development, is being co-developed with SB Biologicals, a division of GlaxoSmithKline.
Vitaxin is a monoclonal antibody that has the potential to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) by binding to a specific integrin (avb3) expressed on a variety of cells that play a critical role in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and restenosis, as well as cancer. In 2001, MedImmune initiated two studies with Vitaxin in cancer patients. In March, the company began a Phase I pharmacokinetic study with Vitaxin in patients with refractory solid tumors. In July, the company began a Phase I/II study in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. MedImmune licensed Vitaxin from Applied Molecular Evolution, Inc. (AME) in February 1999. During 2000, the two companies worked together to prepare a more potent version of the original Vitaxin molecule using AME's proprietary technology.
In October 2001, MedImmune licensed the EphA2 technology from Purdue University. EphA2 is a tumor-causing protein when over expressed. Preliminary studies indicate that it is the over expression of EphA2 that subverts normal regulation of cell growth, which then leads to tumor cell growth and metastases. Further, these studies show that the introduction of an antibody targeting EphA2 may allow the restoration of this cell growth regulation or induce cell killing.
About the Companies
Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a development stage biopharmaceutical company focused on utilizing functional genomics and proteomics to develop therapeutics and diagnostics for cancer. The Company's technology pipeline includes drug development programs for central nervous system diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. More information is available at http://www.PanaceaPharma.com.
A&G Pharmaceutical, Inc. is a biotechnology company. Its Monoclonal Antibody Services Division uses proprietary technology to provide monoclonal antibody development services to client companies. The company's Pharmaceutical Division conducts R&D on growth factor-based diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents. More information is available at http://www.agrx.net.
MedImmune is a leading biotechnology company focused on researching, developing and commercializing products to prevent or treat infectious disease, autoimmune disease and cancer. MedImmune actively markets three products, Synagis® (palivizumab), Ethyol® (amifostine) and CytoGam® (cytomegalovirus immune globulin intravenous (human)), and has 11 products in clinical testing. MedImmune employs approximately 1,500 people, is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and has additional operations in Frederick, Maryland, as well as Pennsylvania, California, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. For more information on MedImmune, visit the company's website at www.medimmune.com.
This announcement may contain, in addition to historical information, certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Such statements reflect management's current views and are based on certain assumptions. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated as a result of a number of factors, including risks and uncertainties discussed in the company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is developing several products for potential future marketing. There can be no assurance that such development efforts will succeed, that such products will receive required regulatory clearance or that, even if such regulatory clearance were received, such products would ultimately achieve commercial success.