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More MS news articles for March 2003

Biophage discovers new uses for REGA-3G12 antibody

Mar 33, 2003 - 10:44 ET - News Release

Mr. Michael Small reports


Biophage Pharma has disclosed two important discoveries by Prof. Ghislain Opdenakker (Rega Institute for Medical Research, Leuven, Belgium), member of the scientific advisory board of Biophage; these have been accepted for publication.

These new data demonstrate that Interferon-b (IFN-b) and insulin are readily degraded by the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), the target enzyme for Biophage's proprietary REGA-3G12 antibody. This MMP-9-induced degradation leads to a decrease of the biological effect of these proteins. Clinically, these findings may have several important implications as recombinant IFN-b is currently used for treatment of multiple sclerosis, while insulin is used for the treatment of diabetes. The worldwide annual market for insulin and IFN-b is estimated to be in the $2-billion (U.S.) to $4-billion (U.S.) ranges, respectively.

Multiple sclerosis

These results suggest that the combination of an MMP-9 inhibitor such as REGA-3G12 to IFN-b may improve its efficacy, reduce its dosage as well as decrease the side effects related to the autoimmune responses associated with its administration. Treatment of multiple sclerosis patients with IFN-b is costly and associated with considerable rates of non-responders and of patients developing IFN-b auto-antibodies.


In the case of diabetes, some papers reported that insulin auto-antibodies represent reliable serological markers for risk of IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus), suggesting that these auto-antibodies may indeed play a role in the etiology of the disease. The main immunogenic insulin antigen is the peptide 9-23 from the insulin B chain, and the results of the team of Prof. Opdenakker showed a major cleavage site at position 23 by MMP-9. This observation may also have implications for the treatment of acute and chronic pancreatitis, since increased levels of MMP-9 have been observed in both these conditions.

"We believe these findings hold significant clinical relevance and provide further commercialization potential for our novel antibody," commented Elie Farah, chief executive officer of Biophage Pharma. Mr. Farah added, "Accordingly, provisional applications covering the intellectual property associated with these findings have been filed by Biophage." The filings seek to further extend the broad utility of REGA-3G12 in regulating deleterious effects of MMP-9 activities beyond the current targets in the inflammatory cascade. Moreover, Biophage intends to implement an aggressive experimental plan to further characterize the role that MMP-9 may play with regards to these diseases and to confirm the beneficial role of REGA-3G12.

© 2003 Canjex Publishing Ltd