More MS news articles for March 2001

Australia's Progen LTD to Fund University Research Program

Monday 26 March 7:34 AM

BRISBANE, March 26 Asia Pulse - Australian Biotechnology company Progen Industries Ltd (ASX:PGL) has signed a deal with Queensland's Griffith University to fund a research collaboration.

The research collaboration will be led by Professor Mark von Itzstein and looks to discover new heparanase inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease [IBD].

Progen will invest up to $A1.4 million ($US696,500) into the research collaboration, which is the first to be conducted at Griffith University's new Centre for Biomolecular Science and Drug Discovery in Queensland.

The Centre was established in 2000 as a joint venture between Griffith University and the Queensland State Government.

Progen managing director Lewis Lee said the company's collaboration with Professor von Itzstein was a key to its strategy to complement the company's technology platform.

"We believe the research collaboration offers great potential for us to develop new compounds for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis and IBD," he said.

"The overall value of the inflammatory disease world market is approximately US$30 billion per annum, encompassing a variety of indications.

"We are confident that compounds developed under the research collaboration will have significant market potential."

Heparanase is an enzyme which acts to degrade the natural "glue" (or extracellular matrix) which holds cells together in the human body.

Inflammatory disease is commonly caused by an over-infiltration of white blood cells (leukocytes) which burrow between cells lining blood vessels to reach the site of the disease.

By inhibiting the action of heparanase, the inflow of white blood cells to the target site can be prevented, thereby relieving inflammation.

Under the agreement, Progen would have an option to exclusive rights to the intellectual property arising from the research collaboration.

The agreement is for an initial period of 12 months, with Progen having the option to extend the research collaboration for a further two years.