Geelong, Australia (27th October, 2008). Verva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (“Verva”) today announced that its scientific collaborators at the Metabolic Research Unit of Deakin University (”MRU”) have been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (”NH&MRC”) Project Grant to further evaluate the clinical application of Verva’s Gene Expression Signature (”GES”) diabetes discovery platform.
The NH&MRC Project Grant entitled “Stratification of Insulin Resistance” provides AUD 329,250 over 3 years to characterize different subtypes of insulin resistance using the GES technology. This is expected to enable clinical use of the GES to classify diabetes patients into different disease sub-groups; thereby facilitating discovery and development of patient-specific medicines and optimized diabetes treatment regimens.
Verva CEO Vince Wacher stated: “We are very pleased that the NH&MRC has recognized the exceptional quality of the MRU research team and the potential utility of the GES technology. We look forward to applying the research outcomes to the discovery and development of optimized diabetes medicines that significantly improve diabetes therapy”.
Dr. Ken Walder, Deputy Director and Operational Manager of the MRU stated: “This is important recognition from the NH&MRC of the quality of the research being conducted in the MRU, and the novelty of the GES approach”. The Chief Investigators on the grant are MRU scientists Dr. Nicky Konstantopoulos, Dr Juan Carlos Molero-Navajas and Dr. David H. Segal (now at Cytopia Ltd.) and Dr. Jeremy B. Jowett of the Baker IDI Heart Institute.
Verva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing novel therapies to treat diabetes and to prevent and treat obesity. Verva’s lead product VVP808 is a non-thiazolidinedione insulin sensitiser entering phase 1b/2a clinical safety and efficacy testing in type 2 diabetes. VVP808 was previously approved in North America in an unrelated indication; its unexpected anti-diabetic activity was discovered using the MRU-developed GES platform. Verva’s pipeline includes: (i) an accelerated discovery program developing next-generation diabetes therapies based on VVP808 structure and mode-of-action; (ii) expansion of the GES platform to discover new types of optimised diabetes therapies; and (iii) preclinical proof-of-concept with two obesity-focused technologies that block de novo fat formation. Further information can be found on the Company’s website www.vervapharma.com.
About the Gene Expression Signature Platform
The GES diabetes discovery platform is a target- and mechanism-independent screen that measures the impact of a test molecule on a “fingerprint” of 7-13 genes that are modulated when diabetic cells are rendered healthy by treatment with a cocktail of anti-diabetic medications. The GES allows identification of diabetes therapies that modulate multiple disease-related pathways and are anticipated to have improved, more sustainable efficacy that “single pathway” modulators. The GES varies with the cell type used and the means by which it was made diabetic, providing a flexible discovery tool that can be used to discover medicines optimized to different diabetes aetiologies.