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Curis' Hedgehog Pathway Implicated in Development of Key Cell Type within the Brain and Spinal Cord

Curis developing drug candidates based on Hedgehog pathway for treatment of brain and spinal cord disorders

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October 30, 2003
Source: Curis, Inc.
Business Wire
Cambridge, Mass.

Curis, Inc. today announced that the current issue of the scientific journal Neuron contains a report demonstrating that the Hedgehog signaling pathway is essential for the generation of oligodendrocytes within the central nervous system. Oligodendrocytes play a key role in the function of the brain and spinal cord by providing a sheath around the nerves that protects the nerve cells and ensures their normal function.

Loss of the oligodendrocyte sheath due to disease (as in multiple sclerosis) or traumatic damage (as in spinal cord injury) can lead to severe disability. The National Institutes of Health estimates that multiple sclerosis affects more than 290,000 people in the United States and that spinal cord injury occurs in 12,000 to 15,000 people per year.

The report is entitled "De-regulation of Dorso-Ventral Identity by FGF Explains the Tripotency of CNS Stem Cells In Vitro." The research was performed in the laboratory of Dr. David Anderson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and in the laboratories of Curis, Inc. The authors conclude that it is the activation of the Hedgehog pathway that leads to the development of the oligodendrocyte cell type."

Curis is developing small molecule activators (agonists) of the Hedgehog pathway as drug candidates for the treatment of a variety of neurological disorders. Curis' Hedgehog agonists are orally available compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier and have demonstrated therapeutic efficacy in several models of neurological disease, including Parkinson's disease, stroke, and diabetic neuropathy.

Dr. Lee Rubin, Curis' Chief Scientific Officer, said, "This new report expands our understanding of the role of the Hedgehog pathway in the development of key cells in the brain and spinal cord. It also broadens our understanding of the ways in which Hedgehog agonists can stimulate repair of damaged neural tissue."

Daniel Passeri, Curis' President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We believe this publication adds to the increasingly large body of evidence that validates the Hedgehog pathway as a significant target for the development of new drug candidates for neurological disorders."

About Curis, Inc.

Curis, Inc. is a therapeutic drug development company. The Company's technology focus is on regulatory pathways that control repair and regeneration. Curis' product development involves the use of proteins or small molecules to modulate these pathways. Curis has successfully used this technology and product development approach to produce several promising drug product candidates in the fields of kidney disease, neurological disorders, cancer, and alopecia (hair loss). For more information, please visit the Curis web site at www.curis.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements concerning Curis or management's intentions, plans, expectations or predictions of future events are forward-looking statements. Such statements may contain the words "believes", "expects", "anticipates", "plans", "estimates" or similar expressions. Forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results to be materially different from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. Actual results can be affected by, among other things, uncertainties relating to product development, clinical trials, regulatory actions or delays, the ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection, changes in or an inability to execute Curis' realigned business strategy and other risk factors identified in Curis' most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Curis disclaims any intention or obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release.
 

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