Monday March 26
BRISBANE, Australia--(BW HealthWire)--March 26, 2001--Progen Industries Ltd (NASDAQ: PGLAF); (ASX: PGL) entered an agreement with Griffith University to fund a research collaboration to discover new heparanase inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The research collaboration will be led by Professor Mark von Itzstein, who was awarded the 1996 Australia Prize for excellence in the field of Pharmaceutical Design for his role in the development of carbohydrate-based drug Relenza(TM). This was the first anti-viral drug discovered in Australia and approved for treatment of influenza in Australia, Europe, the United States and Japan.
Progen will invest up to $1.4 million 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, Mr Lewis Lee, commented, "Progen's research collaboration with Professor Mark von Itzstein is key to our 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."
"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," Mr Lee said.
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.
Mr Lee commented, "We are delighted to join forces with Professor von Itzstein in his role as project leader of the research collaboration. He is well-respected in the fields of carbohydrate chemistry, drug design and synthesis, and we look forward to capitalising on the many valuable synergies between Mark's expertise and our technology platform."
Griffith University's Centre for Biomolecular Science and Drug Discovery is engaged in research covering various aspects of organic chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry, rational drug design, computational chemistry and biochemistry, in particular, enzymology.
Progen is engaged in the research of carbohydrate-protein interactions as a source of potential therapeutics for a variety of disease conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Progen is a world leader in the research and development of inhibitors of heparanase, a glycosaminoglycan degrading enzyme. Progen's objective is to develop and commercialize novel therapeutics. The Company has a world class manufacturing facility that manufactures drug candidates under GMP for clinical trials.
Progen's lead compound is the sulfated oligosaccharide PI-88, which has been shown to have anti-angiogenic and anti-metastatic properties. The compound has also been shown to be a potent anti-thrombotic. Progen announced the conclusion of its Phase Ib clinical trial in cancer patients on 2 February 2001, and is currently planning for the first Phase II study of PI-88 in cancer to be carried out in the US.
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 development and manufacture, risks
inherent in the extensive regulatory approval process mandated by the Australian
Therapeutic Goods Administration and the United States Food and Drug Administration,
the TGA and FDA, requiring additional pre-clinical or clinical testing
prior to commencing Phase II trials, patient recruitment, delays in the
conduct of clinical trials and in obtaining the necessary approvals for
additional clinical testing and for marketing of PI-88, market acceptance
of PI-88 and other drugs, future capitals 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.
Progen Industries Limited, Australiaor
Lewis Lee, 61-7-3273-9100
Six Sigma Group, San Francisco
Stephen N. Anderson, 1-415-776-6499