Eirx Therapeutic Plc & Diagnostic Services Agreement
March 9, 2006
RNS Number:5175Z EiRx Therapeutics PLC 09 March 2006
EIRX THERAPEUTICS PLC
(“EiRx” or “The Company”)
EiRx and Almac Diagnostic Services Sign Joint Euro400K Colorectal Cancer Agreement
Cork, Ireland, 9th March 2006 – EiRx Therapeutics plc (AIM: ERX), the drug discovery company developing targeted therapies initially for the treatment of colorectal cancer, announces that it has signed a collaborative agreement with applied genomics specialists Almac Diagnostic Services Ltd of Craigavon, Northern Ireland. The agreement provides terms for the creation and commercialisation of intellectual property arising from a research alliance between the two companies.
The collaboration is being facilitated in part by the InterTradeIreland INNOVA Collaborative R&D program which will contribute up to Euro400,000 to fund salaries, research expenses, protection of intellectual property, overheads, travel and other allowances over a two year period.
Under this alliance EiRx will use its ALIBI(TM) platform to design and model the transformation events and mechanisms associated with resistance to apoptosis (cell death) that occur in the early development of colorectal cancer. Almac Diagnostic Services will measure and correlate gene expression changes associated with the transformation using gene microarray technology. The molecular function of candidate genes in colorectal cancer cells will then be validated using EiRx’s proprietary siRNA delivery system and in-vitro apoptosis assays. These targets will form the basis for the design of new drugs designed to selectively and specifically induce apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells.
EiRx and Almac Diagnostic Services view the signing of this agreement as the first phase of a strategic alliance that is expected to expand as the two technology-driven companies work together to develop enhanced treatments for colorectal cancer.
Commenting on the collaboration, EiRx COO Colin Telfer said: “We are delighted to sign this collaboration with Almac Diagnostic Services, whose leading expertise in microarray technology combines with EiRx’s skills in functional genomics and translational biology to create a powerful competitive edge. We believe our collaboration will lead to significant advances in understanding of the molecular basis of colorectal cancer and drive our mission to develop new and better medicines.”
For further information, please contact:
EiRx Therapeutics plc
John Pool, Chairman 01260 226529
Tim Anderson / Mark Court / Mary-Jane Johnson 020 7466 5000
Notes for Editors:
EiRx Therapeutics (AIM: ERX) is a research-driven healthcare company developing new-targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer. The company, which is headquartered in Cork, Ireland, conducts drug discovery from its laboratories in Cork and in Aberdeen, Scotland, and has an initial focus on colorectal tumours, currently the number two cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.
Since its foundation in 1999 EiRx has developed into a leader in the study of functional pathways critical to cancer cell survival and growth, with a research base encompassing apoptosis biology, translational medicine and the metabolic basis of drug resistance in tumours. Using its state-of-the-art, proprietary ALIBI(TM) platform, EiRx has gained new insights into the mechanisms underlying a cell’s decision to survive or die, and has implicated a range of novel genes in pivotal control mechanisms such as the PI3K/AKT and GSK/Wnt survival pathways. In combining functional validation technologies with unique clinical resources such as the ACCRI-BANK tissue collection, EiRx is linking the molecular activity of these targets with clinical consequences in patient populations. By streaming validated targets into an innovative compound screening approach EiRx is creating a product development engine specialising in cancer target discovery, validation and targeted therapy.
The EiRx business strategy is three-fold, and integrates (i) discovery and out-licensing of validated cancer diagnostic and drug targets, (ii) discovery and development of new anticancer drugs through independent or collaborative research, and (iii) application of proprietary knowledge and technologies through collaborative R&D initiatives.
Notable milestones in 2005/6 include:
Acquisition of oncology company Auvation Ltd
Collaborative research agreement with Merck & Co. Inc. to evaluate EiRx’s siRNA delivery technology
Award of a Marie Curie Programme grant from the European Commission, to support development of the company’s screening, chemistry and efficacy testing capabilities
Development of the EnPAD(TM) drug screening technology to enable identification of compounds that specifically target cell survival pathways
Filing of patent applications on first series of potential anti-cancer compounds identified using EnPADTM, which target the b-catenin signalling pathway to selectively kill colorectal and breast cancer cells in vitro
Filing of patent application describing a second series of potential anti-cancer compounds identified using EnPADTM
To identify effective drug targets it is vital to differentiate between genes that are causal and those that are consequential to the biological process under study. EiRx’s ALIBITM drug target discovery platform exploits physiological, disease and process-relevant cellular models to achieve this goal. Practical application of the ALIBITM platform has been validated in a detailed analysis of the apoptotic mechanism, and works as follows. An appropriate cellular disease model is selected and a series of assays designed to focus and steer signalling pathway analysis. The apoptotic mechanism and its counteracting survival pathways are subjected to extensive molecular characterisation (genomic and biochemical) to determine kinetics, functional dependency and the ability of inhibitors and siRNA reagents to modulate the targeted cellular processes. Output data is analysed using a suite of bioinformatics tools, resulting in identification of candidate drug targets whose expression is highly correlated with the apoptosis and survival process across the entire assay panel. The current study will utilize the principals of ALIBITM to model the very early events associated with cellular transformation of colorectal cells, thereby identifying specific molecular components which can be targeted by new colorectal cancer drugs.
For more information visit www.eirx.com
About Almac Diagnostic Services
Almac Diagnostic Services Limited (www.almac-diagnostics.com) is a cancer diagnostics company that was founded in 2003 by Professor Patrick Johnston and Professor Paul Harkin from Queens University Belfast in partnership with the McClay Trust and is based in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. Almac Diagnostic Services Ltd is committed to the development and clinical validation of the next generation of cancer diagnostics products.
Almac Diagnostic Services Ltd believes that its approach of harnessing high throughput enabling technologies combined with state of the art bioinformatic tools to precisely define gene expression changes is essential to the development of the next generation of microarray based cancer diagnostic products. Almac Diagnostic Services is working closely with some of the worlds leading genomics companies to achieve these aims.
Almac Diagnostic Services is part of the Almac group of companies, a privately owned group of affiliated companies comprising four principal divisions, CTS (Clinical Trial Services), CSS (Chemical Synthesis Services), PDMS (Pharmaceutical Developmental and Manufacturing Services and ICTI (Interactive Clinical Technologies Inc). Almac’s headquarters are based in Craigavon, Northern Ireland with facilities in mainland UK and the United States (www.almac-sciences.com) as well. Almac Diagnostic Services has benefited from the extensive networks already established by Almac Sciences in the pharmaceutical industry and aims to spearhead Almac’s expansion into the genomic service market.
For more information visit www.almacgroup.com
About colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both sexes, accounting for between 10 and 15 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Although highly responsive to treatment when detected at an early stage, the prevalence of late-stage diagnoses means it is second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths it causes. According to the World Health Organisation, almost 950,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2000 and about half that number died.