MedImmune, Inc. Expands Oncology Pipeline With Increased Focus On Eph Proteins As Potential Target For New Cancer Therapies
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- MedImmune, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a licensing agreement with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research ("Burnham Institute") to develop peptides targeting the EphA and EphB subfamilies of receptor tyrosine kinases. This agreement further expands MedImmune's focus on Eph proteins as potential targets for new cancer therapies. Certain Eph proteins are believed to play an important role in uncontrolled tumor growth and metastasis in many types of human cancers.
"The addition of these peptides to our portfolio represents another step that MedImmune has taken to strategically enhance our oncology product pipeline," said Peter A. Kiener, D. Phil., MedImmune's senior vice president, research. "This agreement with the Burnham Institute augments the breadth of our Eph protein research, and complements our existing antibody and vaccine programs targeting Eph receptor tyrosine kinases. As we continue to build on our expertise in this area, we look forward to expanding the body of knowledge about the role Eph receptors may play in cancers."
Under the terms of the agreement, MedImmune will be responsible for the clinical development and commercialization of any resulting products. The Burnham Institute will receive an upfront fee, development and regulatory milestone payments, as well as royalties on any future marketed products.
"We consider MedImmune a leader in the development of Eph peptides and we are pleased that the company will be working to further develop Eph peptides discovered at the Burnham Institute," said Elena Pasquale, Ph.D., professor of developmental neurobiology at the Burnham Institute. "In preclinical studies, Eph-targeting peptides have demonstrated selectivity and potency. They may offer distinct advantages as a therapeutic approach due to their small size and potential to combine administration of different peptides, which could allow for selective targeting of multiple Eph receptors."
About Eph Proteins and Peptides
The Eph family of proteins are the largest subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases, a class of cellular receptors that are implicated in cell proliferation and cell death (apoptosis). A growing body of evidence suggests that Eph proteins play a role in uncontrolled tumor growth and metastasis in many types of human cancers. For example, EphA2 is expressed at high levels in numerous types of tumors, including those associated with breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers. In studies conducted by the Burnham Institute, certain Eph family peptides have been shown to bind selectively to Eph receptors and may modulate their activity.
MedImmune is currently investigating the potential for EphA2 antibodies and vaccines to specifically treat or prevent certain cancers and plans to file an investigational new drug application for its anti-EphA2 monoclonal antibody, MEDI-531, in 2006. Earlier this year, the company significantly expanded the scope of its Eph receptor tyrosine kinase research by entering a licensing and collaboration agreement with VasGene Therapeutics, Inc. to develop cancer-focused monoclonal antibodies targeting EphB4 and its ligand, EphrinB2. The company is also conducting preclinical research with other Eph proteins, including EphA4.
About the Burnham Institute for Medical Research
The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, founded in 1976, is an independent not-for-profit biomedical research institution dedicated to advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge and providing the foundation for tomorrow's medical therapies. The institute is home to three major centers: the Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Neuroscience and Aging Center, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Since 1981, the institute's Cancer Center has been a member of the National Cancer Institute's prestigious Cancer Centers program. Discoveries by Burnham scientists have contributed to the development of new drugs for Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and several forms of cancer. Today the Burnham Institute employs over 725 individuals, including more than 550 scientists. The majority of the institute's funding derives from federal sources, but private philanthropic support is essential to continuing bold and innovative research. For additional information about the institute and ways to support the research efforts of the institute, visit http://www.burnham.org.
MedImmune strives to provide better medicines to patients, new medical options for physicians, rewarding careers to employees, and increased value to shareholders. Dedicated to advancing science and medicine to help people live better lives, the company is focused on the areas of infectious diseases, cancer and inflammatory diseases. With more than 2,000 employees worldwide, MedImmune is headquartered in Maryland. For more information, visit http://www.medimmune.com.
This announcement may contain, in addition to historical information, certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, in particular, related to the research and development of peptides targeting Eph proteins. Such statements reflect management's current views and are based on certain assumptions about the success of this program. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated as a result of a number of factors, including risks and uncertainties discussed in MedImmune's filings with the SEC. MedImmune is developing Eph-related product candidates for potential future marketing. There can be no assurance that such development efforts will succeed, that such products will receive required regulatory clearance or that, even if such regulatory clearance were received, such products would ultimately achieve commercial success.
This press release can be found on MedImmune's website at http://www.medimmune.com in the box marked "News" or with the archived press releases on the Investor Summary page.MedImmune, Inc.
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