SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Cerimon Pharmaceuticals announced today it has entered into an agreement with Novartis Pharma AG to conduct a proof of concept study for Simulect(R) (basiliximab) for the treatment of noninfectious uveitis, an autoimmune inflammation of the eye's internal structures. Uveitis can cause severe visual impairment and accounts for an estimated 10 percent of blindness cases in the Western World. Basiliximab is a monoclonal antibody that selectively blocks the interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor. This mechanism of action provides highly targeted inhibition of the T-lymphocyte activation that is involved in serious immune-related diseases.
"There is a significant need for new effective therapies for the treatment of noninfectious uveitis patients. Part of Cerimon's overall strategy is to expand our basiliximab development program into other autoimmune diseases where there is significant medical need," commented Paul Sekhri, President and CEO of Cerimon Pharmaceuticals. "The agreement also exemplifies our strong relationship with Novartis, one of the leading worldwide pharmaceutical companies."
Dr. Daniel Levitt, Cerimon's Executive Vice President of Research and Development, stated, "Based on the mechanism of action of basiliximab, we believe this compound is well-suited to the treatment of noninfectious uveitis, a chronic eye inflammation that can lead to complications such as glaucoma, cataract, and vision loss. Basiliximab has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for this group of uveitis patients and reduce adverse events often associated with current treatments that include corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive therapies."
In February 2006, Cerimon licensed basiliximab from Novartis for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). In April 2007, Cerimon initiated a Phase IIb clinical study, titled ARREST UC-1 (Achieve Remission & Reduce or Eliminate Steroid Therapy in Ulcerative Colitis), for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, a common type of IBD.
About Autoimmune Uveitis
Uveitis is an inflammation of the internal structures of the eye. There are two types of uveitis, infectious and noninfectious. Noninfectious uveitis is believed to be the result of an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune uveitis affects approximately 175,000 people in the United States and can lead to blindness. Current treatments include topical and oral corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs; however, these generally have limited success and can lead to adverse effects.
About Cerimon Pharmaceuticals
Cerimon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing therapeutic products for autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and pain. Cerimon believes these new treatment options will enable physicians specialized in treating these conditions to further improve the lives of their patients.
Cerimon currently has two drugs in development. Simulect(R) (basiliximab) entered a Phase IIb study for moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis in the April 2007. In late fourth quarter 2007, Cerimon's topical patch formulation of diclofenac entered two Phase II/III clinical studies for the treatment of acute musculoskeletal pain.
The Company is well-financed, having closed a $70 million Series A financing in late 2005 with premier investors including MPM, Nomura Phase4 Ventures, and OrbiMed Advisors.
For more information on Cerimon, please visit the Company's website at http://www.cerimon.com.
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