Press release

8 April 2002

Cancer Research Ventures, London Assigns New Pre-clinical Candidate for Auto-immune Disorders and Cancer to BioSphings AG

Cancer Research Ventures (‘CRV’) announced today that it has signed an agreement with BioSphings AG to assign rights to a patent estate that it had formerly been appointed to commercialise. CRV has invested in many exciting early stage cancer developments, over recent years and this was the second advance CRV has taken forward on behalf of the inventor Dr. Eberhard Amtmann from The German Cancer Centre (‘DKFZ’) in Heidelberg. The new company, BioSphings of which Dr. Amtmann is a co-founder, will take the development of this exciting inhibitor of neutral sphingomyelinase in to the clinic, alongside its other clinical candidate, which is a Herpes Simplex Anti-viral cream.

Dr. Amtmann’s earlier research at DKFZ had selected the lead compound from a large anti-viral screen and subsequently found that the drug was highly selective for a particular form of sphingomyelinases that were up-regulated in tissue and cells showing pathogenic phenotype but not to the same extent in normal tissues. Neutral Sphingomyelinase is a critical enzyme involved in the Fas/CD95 driven apoptotic pathway, and it is thought that the abundance of the enzyme in these diseased cells prevents the cells from undergoing apoptosis or ‘programmed cell death’ to completion. For example in arthritis, inflammation is caused by a build up of activated T-cells. In a normal immune response the activated T-cells will die naturally once they have completed their task. Dr. Amtmann has shown that an inhibitor of neutral sphingomyelinase will restore the apoptotic pathway and allow cells to die. Unlike other potential and current therapies for auto-immune disorders this does not rely on a non-specific suppression of the immune system which can prove dangerous for the patient. Instead it is highly selective only for the cells that the body has already targeted for apoptosis after induction of Fas. Consequently the inhibitor has no effect on non-activated T-cells or other cells of the immune system such as the antibody producing B-cells. The inhibitor has shown very clear anti neoplastic properties in mouse xenografts where it sensitises tumours to the effects of cisplatin and Tumour Necrosis Factor and when administered orally, has been shown to remove T-cell lymphomas in mice.

CRV has to date underwritten the patent costs and ensured a good intellectual property position in the field over the last two years. Now that the inventor has secured finance for the clinical development, CRV were very happy to hand back rights to this promising candidate. This continues the recent trend CRV has shown to help foster new start-up companies, mainly in the cancer field, with Qugen, Singapore and Chroma, Oxford, UK being the most recent. CRV said that it has plans to incorporate another UK based company in the next two months based on cancer pro-drugs and is currently involved in helping seed companies in the Netherlands and Italy.


PRESS RELEASE Enquiries:
Cancer Research Ventures Ltd
Simon Youlton, Senior Business Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7291 3600

BioSphings AG
Dr. Eberhard Amtmann/ Dr. Marc Roesel
Tel: +49 (0) 69 74 22 18 13


Except for the historical information presented, certain matters discussed in this statement are forward looking statements that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. These risks and uncertainties may be associated with product discovery and development, including statements regarding the company's clinical development programmes, the expected timing of clinical trials and regulatory filings. Such statements are based on management's current expectations, but actual results may differ materially.


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