DALLAS and IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ACCESS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. and SOMANTA PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. announced today new data emerging from a pre-clinical collaboration with Imperial College London suggests that Somanta's Angiolix could be effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The work, undertaken in the laboratory of Dr. Mahendra Deonarain of Imperial's Faculty of Natural Sciences has shown that Angiolix can specifically localize to human ovarian cancers using three different ovarian cancer types, whilst sparing normal tissues. In addition, high doses of Angiolix were seen to be non-toxic in healthy mice. Examination of tumor tissues using state-of-the-art microscopy showed that Angiolix rapidly and evenly distributes throughout the tumor tissues in the matrix surrounding all the tumor cells.
Angiolix is a humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes a migrating adhesion molecule called Lactadherin. Data suggests that tumor cells express Lactadherin which is a factor in the proliferation of the vasculature which is necessary to support tumor growth. Several existing or potential anti-cancer drugs (such as Avastin(R)) seek to block tumor vascularization by blocking a signaling protein know as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The binding of Angiolix to Lactadherin is thought to cause a VEGF independent integrin receptor signaling cascade that blocks vascular endothelial cell proliferation. Somanta has previously reported the effectiveness of Angiolix in models of human breast cancer.
"This is an important discovery," said Dr. Agamemnon Epenetos, CEO of Somanta. "We have already understood that Lactadherin is present in breast cancers but had not previously known whether other cancer types express this factor. The work with Imperial College London confirms the presence of Lactadherin in ovarian cancer and that Angiolix binds to its target in ovarian cancer models. This data opens the door to the potential use of Angiolix for tumors other than breast cancer. Moreover, we are aware that researchers are currently experimenting to learn what additional tumor types besides breast and ovarian cancer may express also Lactadherin."
Access and Somanta have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Access to acquire Somanta. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Access will issue 1.5 million shares of common stock to Somanta stockholders in exchange for all the outstanding capital stock of Somanta. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.
About Imperial College London:
Rated as the world's ninth best university in the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 11,500 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. The College has 66 Fellows of the Royal Society among its current academic staff and distinguished past members of the College include 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medalists.
Access Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is an emerging biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes propriety products for the treatment and supportive care of cancer patients. Access' products include ProLindac(TM), currently in Phase II clinical testing of patients with ovarian cancer and MuGard(TM) for the management of patients with mucositis. The company also has other advanced drug delivery technologies including Cobalamin(TM)-mediated targeted delivery and oral drug delivery. Access has announced the execution of a definitive merger agreement to acquire Somanta. For additional information on Access Pharmaceuticals, please visit our website at http://www.accesspharma.com
This press release contains certain statements that are forward-looking within the meaning of Section 27a of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements include those relating to: Access' plans to initiate clinical trials, the value of its products in the market, its ability to achieve clinical and commercial success, its ability to successfully develop marketed products and the ability to obtain or meet the closing conditions in the merger agreement with Somanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and applicable regulatory and tax requirements, and to otherwise complete the merger in a timely manner. These statements are subject to numerous risks, including but not limited Access' need to obtain additional financing and to the risks detailed in Access' and Somanta's Annual Reports on Form 10-KSB and other reports filed by Access and Somanta with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Access Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
CONTACT: Stephen B. Thompson, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer ofAccess Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; +1-214-905-5100; or investor relations,Donald C. Weinberger, or Alisa Steinberg, +1-212-370-4500, both of WolfeAxelrod Weinberger Assoc. LLC, for Access Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; or AndrewHellman of CEOcast, Inc., +1-212-732-4300, for Access Pharmaceuticals