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Target Discovery Inc. And PrecisionMed Inc. Collaborate To Study Triggers Of Autism; Study To Discriminate Between Competing Hypotheses On Mechanism Of Childhood Autism

10/19/2005 5:10:43 PM

PALO ALTO, Calif. & SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 6, 2004--Target Discovery Inc., a discovery biology company, and PrecisionMed Inc., a human sample biobank and clinical trial organization, today announced they have entered into a research collaboration designed to test competing theories concerning the mechanism of childhood autism. Specifically, the research is designed to pinpoint the source of certain opioid-like peptides that have been observed at elevated levels in autistic children. Target Discovery and PrecisionMed's goal is to determine whether and how metabolic factors play a role in the development of autism.

Under the terms of the agreement, PrecisionMed will be responsible for collecting samples from accurately characterized clinical cases of autism patients, while Target Discovery will use its metabolomics and systems biology modeling technology to analyze these samples. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"This collaboration will utilize Target Discovery's MetaSIRMS(TM) metabolomics technology and PrecisionMed's skill in study design and execution to determine the source of certain unusual opioid-like peptides whose levels are elevated in many autistic children," said Jeffrey N. Peterson, CEO of Target Discovery. "It was Target Discovery's systems biology approach incorporating mathematical modeling and simulation of certain observed disease pathology that led to our novel study strategy that is designed to resolve this twenty-year clinical debate. An improved understanding of the mechanism of autism would provide physicians and families important information towards improving treatment and possible prevention strategies."

"We are excited at the prospect of making a significant contribution to the understanding and management of childhood autism, and are pleased to be teaming with Target Discovery's innovative technologies on this important study. Accurate phenotyping is particularly challenging in neuropsychiatric diseases, and PrecisionMed's extensive experience in this area will be pivotal to ensuring the success of this study," said John S. Flax, MD, President and CEO of PrecisionMed. "We are optimistic that this research could provide an important milestone in unraveling the factors that predispose children to the development of this disease."

Certain opioid-like peptides have been observed at elevated levels in the blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid of many autistic children. Three different mechanisms have been postulated in the scientific literature for this elevation: a malfunctioning digestive process; infections of the digestive tract; or endogenous production by the body. The collaborators have defined a novel investigation, utilizing stable (non-radioactive) isotope metabolite studies of urine and blood samples from autistic and control children enrolled in the study, to discriminate between these competing theories.

About Target Discovery, Inc.

Target Discovery is a discovery biology company that seeks to alleviate critical bottlenecks imposed by current technologies upon drug development and life science research. The company is developing new platform technologies for the elucidation of high quality biological data and for the conversion of that information into a confirmed understanding of biological pathways. Pathway understanding enables new efficiencies in the identification, selection and development of optimal disease targets, biomarkers and drug candidates. Target Discovery is introducing selected technology platforms in reagent and software products and engages in discovery collaborations. The company is based in Palo Alto, California. More information is available at

About PrecisionMed, Inc.

PrecisionMed Inc. is a privately held human sample biobank in the San Diego, California, area. The company conducts clinical trials for the collection of human genetic material including proteins and metabolites linked to audited clinical phenotypic information. Samples and data are banked and marketed to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and academic institutions. PrecisionMed has banked appropriately consented collections with controls for genetic and proteomic molecular diagnostic research in neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, major depression and bipolar I disorder, as well as in other diseases including cystic fibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Accurate phenotyping is particularly challenging in neuroscience and PrecisionMed has extensive experience in this area. De-identified clinical data are provided electronically. New collections are added on a regular basis, with sample types including DNA, RNA, serum, plasma, urine and cerebrospinal fluid.


Target Discovery Jeffrey N. Peterson, 650-812-8121 or

Atkins + Associates (Media/Investor Relations) Anette Breindl, Ph.D., 304-296-1160 or

PrecisionMed, Inc. John S. Flax, MD, 858-847-0117

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