More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Progen Lodges Provisional Patent for Drug Design Technology Platform

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August 9, 2001  9:32am
Source: Business Wire

BRISBANE, Australia, Aug 9, 2001 (BW HealthWire) -- Progen Industries Limited (Nasdaq:PGLAF)(ASX:PGL) and the Australian National University (ANU) today announced that the Australian Patent Office had accepted a provisional patent application describing novel chemistries to be used in the design and synthesis of new drugs.

The provisional patent "Linked Cyclitols and their polysulfated derivatives" covers new chemistries for building (synthesising) compounds that mimic the shape of carbohydrates.

According to Progen's Vice President of Research and Development, Dr. Robert Don, Progen plans to use the new chemistries to develop drugs that block the action of specific targets such as growth factors produced by cancers.

"By expanding our knowledge of carbohydrate-protein interactions and developing new generic chemistries to block these interactions, Progen is continuing to expand its drug discovery research platform," Dr. Don said.

"The new technology will be used to develop compounds that act like `master keys' that bind to a large family of target molecules. These `master' keys can be chemically modified to block the action of unique target molecules in order to prevent specific diseases.

"We plan to use this technology platform to discover new compounds for use in our clinical trials program and to form partnerships with other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies at the drug discovery phase," Dr. Don stated.

Dr. Don added, "Progen is committed to the discovery of inhibitors of carbohydrate-protein interactions as potential treatments for a number of different human diseases including cancer, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease and infectious disease."

Carbohydrates play an important role in a wide range of biological processes including hormonal regulation of cells, cell-to-cell interaction, virus-host cell and bacteria-host cell recognition, and cellular differentiation.

The discovery of the novel chemistries was made as a part of Progen's ongoing research collaboration with Professor Martin Banwell and his team at ANU's Research School of Chemistry, and Professor Chris Parish and his team at ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research.

Progen is also collaborating with Professor Mark von Itzstein from Australia's Griffith University to discover new heparanase inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

About Progen

Progen Industries is a biotechnology company committed to the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule pharmaceuticals for the treatment of a variety of diseases for which there is a significant demand for new therapies. The company's lead drug candidate, PI-88, is under development as a potential treatment for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Phase I/II trials in cancer patients commenced in the United States earlier this month. The company has a world-class facility that manufactures drug candidates under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for clinical trials.

About Progen's Drug Discovery Platform

Progen's drug discovery efforts are focused on the development of potent, selective inhibitors of carbohydrate-protein interactions, which are implicated in a range of different diseases including cancer, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular diseases and infectious disease.

Through the development of its lead drug PI-88, Progen has built up considerable proprietary knowledge and intellectual property related to the role of carbohydrates in disease.

Progen is leveraging this "know-how" to develop a core technology platform that will be used to design drugs for a range of diseases including cancer, inflammation and infection.

Using a lock and key analogy, the chemical scaffold cats like a master key that fits all locks. By refining the master key, a specific key for a specific lock can be designed in the same way, the scaffold is modified chemically (much like adding pieces of meccano) to build up a targeted drug for a nominated disease where carbohydrate-protein interactions are implicated. Changes in scaffolds are predicted from sophisticated computer modeling.

Adopting this approach will give rise to an effective commercialization strategy for Progen and will allow the company not only to develop its own lead drugs based on the platform technology, but also to form a number of strategic alliances with pharmaceutical companies to discover drugs for different disease areas.

This strategy is supported by a growing trend for major pharmaceutical companies to out-source a significant proportion of early stage research to biotechnology companies. The percentage of Australian biotechnology companies developing alliances with international partners has risen from 38% to 53% since 1999 (Ernst & Young Australian Biotechnology Report 2001).

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are based on current management expectations. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results due to certain risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, risks associated with drug discovery, development and manufacture, future capital needs, general economic conditions, and other risks and uncertainties detailed from time to time in the Company's filings with the Australian Stock Exchange and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Moreover, there can be no assurance that others will not independently develop similar products or processes or design around patents owned or licensed by the Company, or that patents owned or licensed by the Company will provide meaningful protection or competitive advantage.

CONTACT:    Progen Industries Ltd.
                  Dr. Robert Don, 011-61-7-3273-09100
                  or
                  Six Sigma Group
                  Stephen N. Anderson, 415/776-6499

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