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Morphotek Inc. Announces Scientific Publications Describing Its Human Antibody Technology And The Biological Role Of A Neovascular Therapeutic Target Antigen


4/3/2006 1:11:33 PM

EXTON, Pa., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Morphotek Inc. today announced scientific publications in the February 28th and March 7th issues of the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describe the biological role of a target to one of its therapeutic antibody programs in promoting angiogenesis and tumor growth and a second report describing the Company's human antibody platform technology called Human MORPHODOMA(R).

The February 28th article entitled "Tumor Endothelial Marker 1 (TEM1) Functions in the Growth and Progression of Abdominal Tumors" is a study performed by an independent research team in which the protein TEM1, also called Endosialin, was evaluated for its role in both normal and neovascular disease processes using TEM1 knockout mice. Data showed that the TEM1-null mice had normal wound healing and vascular development. However, when the mice were implanted with human tumors they showed a reduced growth and metastatic potential as compared to their wild-type littermates. This data supports antibody studies showing that antagonizing Endosialin/TEM1 can suppress embryonic endothelial cell growth and differentiation through inherent and immune effector mechanisms.

Endosialin/TEM1 was originally discovered by Dr. Lloyd Old at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research using molecular immunology approaches to identify cell surface target proteins expressed by tumor stromal cells as a means to suppress/regress tumor growth. Morphotek has exclusively licensed U.S. and international patents and applications from the Ludwig Institute covering the antigen and use of Endosialin/TEM1 antibodies for treating neovascular disease and cancer. MORAb-004 is an Endosialin/TEM1 specific antibody that is being developed by Morphotek for treating neovascular disease. The Company intends to file an IND for clinical evaluation of this antibody in the fourth quarter.

The Human MORPHODOMA article entitled "Human Antibodies for Immunotherapy Development Generated via a Human B Cell Hybridoma Technology" describes Morphotek's human antibody platform technology that combines an ex vivo immunization procedure with a whole genome evolution technology to yield high- affinity, fully human monoclonal antibodies from high-titer hybridomas that are suitable for scaleable manufacturing. The platform offers the ability to generate high-quality human antibodies without the need for costly third party enabling technologies that typically result in high royalty stacking. The Company is employing its Human MORPHODOMA technology to support its internal product pipeline as well as generate therapeutic antibodies for third party collaborators.

"These papers highlight specifics regarding the biology of Endosialin/TEM1 for treating neovascular disease and cancer as well as our proprietary human antibody technology being used to support the development of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and infectious disease," said Luigi Grasso, PhD, Senior Vice President of Research and Development of Morphotek. "It's our combined approach of leveraging our technology to strategic targets obtained from our research networks that has led to the development of an exciting pipeline of therapeutic antibodies that are positioned to move into clinical trials over the next 24 months for validation and value creation."

Dr. Philip Sass, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, added, "Endosialin/TEM1 represents a novel target for the treatment of neovascular disease and cancer. This protein and the pathway it regulates offers a distinct therapeutic option as compared to those pharmaceuticals that target the VEGF pathway. Based on both published data and internal research results, it is our prediction that anti-Endosialin/TEM1 therapies will result in robust anti-angiogenic activities in neovascular disease with fewer side effects that are associated with other anti-angiogenic therapies because of its restricted expression to embryonic endothelial cells and precursors."

About Morphotek

Morphotek Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on the generation of proprietary proteins for product discovery and development. The Company has a validated and patented platform technology called morphogenics that rapidly enhances the natural process of genetic evolution within a targeted host to yield variants with novel, commercially important output traits. Morphotek markets an antibody development platform called Human MORPHODOMA(R) that employs morphogenics to yield fully human, high-affinity monoclonal antibodies from high-titer hybridoma cells. This platform yields high-quality antibodies that do not demand the burdensome royalty mandated by recombinant antibody technologies. Morphotek employs its technologies to develop optimized therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases. For further information visit http://www.morphotek.com.

Contact: Corporate Development/Morphotek, 610-423-6100, info@morphotek.com

Morphotek Inc.

CONTACT: Corporate Development/Morphotek, +1-610-423-6100,info@morphotek.com


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