More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Genzyme to Spin Out Peptimmune

Jan 17, 2002
PR Newswire - USA

Genzyme Corp. announced today that it has established Peptimmune Inc. as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Genzyme will provide initial capitalization of Peptimmune by purchasing $5.5 million in shares of preferred stock. The new company will focus on developing specific immunotherapies for treating autoimmune and allergic diseases.

The transaction is intended to accelerate the progress of Peptimmune's research programs by creating a framework in which they can receive optimal focus and funding. Genzyme acquired Peptimmune in 1999 and has made significant advances in the discovery and development of lead products in Peptimmnune's core areas of focus. Several products are anticipated to enter clinical trials in the next two years for diseases such as pemphigus vulgaris, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Peptimmune's programs had been allocated to Genzyme General , whose product pipeline has expanded significantly in the last year with the acquisitions of GelTex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Novazyme Pharmaceuticals Inc.

"Our success in building Genzyme General's pipeline and advancing products into later stages of development required us to find a way to provide the appropriate level of support and attention for the Peptimmune programs," said Henri A. Termeer, chairman and chief executive officer of Genzyme Corp. "Peptimmune's well-defined portfolio of programs, its infrastructure and its entrepreneurial culture made this a logical decision. We have created an environment in which a number of promising programs can move forward more quickly."

Peptimmune will be led by an experienced group of senior executives, including Robert Carpenter who will serve as company president and chairman of Peptimmune's board of directors. Mr. Carpenter is the former chairman of GelTex Pharmaceuticals and a longtime Genzyme board member. James Rasmussen and Timothy Harris of Genzyme will serve as chief scientific officer and chief operating officer, respectively. The Peptimmune board of directors will also include David McLachlan and Alan Walts of Genzyme.

Peptimmune's therapies are focused on treating autoimmune and allergic disorders by intervening in the body's immune response processes. Current approaches to treating these diseases typically involve non-specific immunosuppression, an approach associated with severe side effects. Peptimmune's products are designed to arrest disease progression in a targeted way by neutralizing disease-causing immune cells only.

Peptimmune's lead product candidate is a peptide-based vaccine being developed for the treatment of pemphigus vulgaris, a genetic disorder characterized by severe and potentially fatal blistering of the skin and mucous membranes. Peptimmune's vaccine is designed to block the autoimmune response that occurs in patients with pemphigus vulgaris. Genzyme has secured the right of first offer to participate in the commercialization of this product.

Beyond its work in pemphigus vulgaris, Peptimmune is developing small- molecule inhibitors of the enzyme Cathespin S for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Peptimmune also has earlier stage research programs focused on treatments for multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Peptimmune has assembled a strong intellectual property portfolio and built close collaborative relationships with key researchers at Harvard University, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Genzyme General develops and markets therapeutic products and diagnostic products and services. Genzyme General has five therapeutic products on the market and a strong pipeline of therapeutic products in development focused on the treatment of genetic disorders and other chronic debilitating diseases with well-defined patient populations. Genzyme General is a division of the biotechnology company Genzyme Corporation.

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements about: product development plans and the anticipated timing of clinical trials; and the anticipated benefits of the formation of Peptimmune as a subsidiary. Actual results may materially differ due to numerous factors, including: the results of pre-clinical and clinical studies; the timing and content of submissions to and decisions made by regulatory authorities; the actual efficacy and safety of Peptimmune's products; the ability to manufacture sufficient quantities of products for development activities and to do so in a timely manner; and the risks and uncertainties described in reports filed by Genzyme with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including without limitation Exhibit 99.2 to Genzyme's 2000 Annual Report on Form 10-K, as amended. Genzyme General Division common stock is a series of common stock of Genzyme Corporation. Therefore, holders of Genzyme General Division common stock are subject to all of the risks and uncertainties described in the aforementioned reports.

Genzyme(R) is a registered trademark of Genzyme Corporation. All rights reserved.

Genzyme's press releases and other company information are available at and by calling Genzyme's investor information line at 1-800- 905-4369 within the United States or 703-797-1866 outside the United States.

Contact: Media: Bo Piela, +1-617-252-7785, or Investor: Sally Curley, +1- 617-591-7140, both of Genzyme


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