NEW YORK, and FREMONT, Calif., and NESS-ZIONA, Israel, Sept. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Pfizer Inc and Quark Biotech, Inc., announced today that they have entered into an agreement under which Pfizer acquires an exclusive worldwide license to Quark's novel human gene RTP-801 and to molecules that modify its expression or function. RTP-801 is involved in the development of pathologic blood vessels which accelerate the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Financial terms of the agreement were not announced. The agreement is subject to clearance by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world affecting about 15 million Americans over the age of 50. The target for RTP-801 is neovascular or wet AMD. Wet AMD is the most devastating form of the disease and occurs due to the formation of an abnormal vascular network beneath the retina of the eye. These blood vessels are excessively leaky and lead to an accumulation of fluid and blood beneath and within the retina resulting in a loss of visual acuity.
"Despite advances in research and the availability of new treatment options, there remains a need for new approaches to improve the lives of patients with AMD," said Martin Mackay, Ph.D., Pfizer senior vice president Worldwide Research and Technology. "We are excited about the potential of RTP-801 to preserve vision in patients with wet AMD who have an increased risk of progressive eye damage and vision loss."
"We are pleased that Pfizer has chosen our novel target RTP-801 and biomolecules for its drug development program," said Daniel Zurr, CEO of Quark. "This agreement provides further recognition for Quark's creative approach to discover conceptually new drugs to treat devastating diseases. We are dedicated to help society with innovative medicines by moving from novel gene targets to unique compounds and eventually commercial products."
Based on pre-clinical models, it is believed that AMD can be treated by blocking the expression of the RTP-801 gene through RNA interference or RNAi. RNAi is a naturally occurring mechanism within cells for selectively silencing and regulating specific genes. The ability to silence genes through RNAi could provide a new way to treat a wide range of human diseases -- including AMD -- that are caused by the inappropriate activity of specific genes.
Pfizer Inc: Working for a healthier world(TM)
Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company taking new approaches to better health. We discover and develop innovative medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. Through consistent, high-quality manufacturing and distribution operations, our medicines reach patients in 180 nations. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality healthcare and health system support. At Pfizer, our colleagues work every day to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide.
About Quark Biotech, Inc.
Quark Biotech, Inc. is a privately held development-stage, biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Fremont, CA. Through an innovative combination of gene silencing and DNA microarray technology, Quark has pioneered and patented its BiFAR(TM) platform for high-throughput functional profiling, allowing significant advances in the identification of target genes and proteins. This technology allows the company to develop conceptually novel drugs that could provide previously unavailable benefits to patients. Quark development efforts are focused on treatment of fibrotic and ischemic diseases of the eye, kidney and lungs, in indications with clear unmet medical needs.
Quark corporate product development teams are based in Fremont, CA and research facilities in Ness-Ziona, Israel.
PFIZER DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The information contained in this document is as of September 26, 2006. Pfizer assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this document as a result of new information or future events or developments.
This release contains forward-looking information about a research and development program and the potential efficacy of product candidates that might result from the program that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Such risks and uncertainties include, among other things, the uncertainty inherent in research and development activities, decisions by regulatory authorities regarding whether and when to approve any drug applications that may result from the program as well as their decisions regarding labeling and other matters that could affect the commercial potential of product candidates that may result from the program; and competitive developments.
A further list and description of risks and uncertainties can be found in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, and in its reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.
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