ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. biotechnology company Velcura Therapeutics(R), Inc. announced a license agreement with Nippon Chemiphar Co. (Chemiphar), Ltd., a Japanese pharmaceutical company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The license agreement enables the two companies to further develop new small-molecule therapies for osteoporosis and other bone diseases. This is a critical unmet need, as osteoporosis is second only to cardiovascular disease as a world health problem, according to the World Health Organization.
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The two companies also announced that they have discovered their first lead compound and shown it to be very effective in animal models of osteoporosis. In 2006, Velcura Therapeutics plans to begin clinical trials on this drug as a possible therapy for osteoporosis.
In working together, the companies coupled Chemiphar's strong expertise in drug discovery with Velcura's patented process of growing human bone in tissue culture. "The scientific and pharmaceutical development expertise at Nippon Chemiphar impressed us immediately," said Dr. Long. "Based on what our colleagues at Chemiphar had already accomplished with this compound, we rapidly moved it to the clinical trials stage."
"This is a unique therapy for osteoporosis," Michael W. Long, Ph.D., President and CEO of Velcura Therapeutics(R), Inc., explained. "Our new compound is important because it both inhibits bone loss and stimulates bone formation. We also can formulate it into a pill, since it is an orally available small molecule. A patient is more likely to take a pill; thus it is the best way to administer a drug needed for a long time as to be expected in the treatment of a chronic bone disease, such as osteoporosis," Dr. Long added.
In addition, Velcura's CEO said he believes that the drug can be formulated into a sustained-release form for treating people with bone fractures. The compound also might be used as a topical application to treat patients with gum disease, who have teeth loosened from the surrounding bone.
Under the terms of the agreement, Velcura also licensed access to a broad range of similar molecules for use in research and development of second- generation drugs to treat bone diseases. Chemiphar will retain commercialization rights in Asia for any new product candidates, while Velcura will have commercialization rights in the United States, Europe and all other markets outside Asia.
About Velcura Therapeutics(R), Inc.
Velcura Therapeutics(R) is a U.S. biotech company focused on developing drugs that stimulate bone formation. Velcura grows human bone outside the body and analyzes this process to develop novel therapies for osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Velcura's scientists have used its rapid human-cell based platform technologies to identify the 1,250 genes in the human genome associated with new bone formation; they have consolidated industry knowledge to create a custom DNA microarray making it possible to more quickly identify drug leads for the development of bone disease therapies. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., the company received $3.3 million in funding from the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor in 2002 and more than $3.8 million from the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit http://www.velcura.com .
About Nippon Chemiphar Co., Ltd.
Nippon Chemiphar is a Japanese pharmaceutical company listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The company develops and markets new chemical entities (NCEs) as NSAID and antihypertensives. The company focuses on drug discovery in a number of the fields, including orthopedics and urology, and is interested in working with other pharmaceutical companies to accelerate development and commercialization. With its depth of expertise in drug discovery, Chemiphar strategically focuses on identifying drug leads for further development. Chemiphar's current R&D is focused on analgesics, therapies for life-style diseases, and hyperuricemia, which is recognized as an increasingly important clinical condition in Japan. With a view to accelerating commercialization, Chemiphar is speeding up development and candidate screening of its compounds, and their licensing overseas. Given its venture-based drug research, Chemiphar is seeks licensing opportunities so that it might more quickly bring its pharmaceuticals to the global market.
For further information, please visit http://www.chemiphar.co.jp .
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Michael W. Long, Ph.D.
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