Aquila Announces License Agreement With Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center For Antibodies That Enhance Immune Function
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28, 2000 3:34:00 PM EST
FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Jun 28, 2000 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Aquila Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. AQLA today announced that it has acquired rights to antibodies that expand and activate a specific, disease fighting T cell population of white blood cells, called NK T cells, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). These antibodies have the potential to be developed as part of an ex vivo cellular therapy or in vivo therapy to treat cancer as well as autoimmune disorders and chronic viral infections. The Company plans to begin clinical trials with an initial product for cancer in 2001.
NK T cells are believed to play an important regulatory role in the body's natural defense mechanism against disease. In early studies conducted by BIDMC and Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) scientists, these antibodies have been shown to specifically expand this population of NK T cells without requiring presentation of antigen by antigen presenting cells (APCs). Individuals with certain forms of cancer and those with Type I diabetes have a substantially reduced number of NK T cells.
"This technology is an important and complementary addition to our CD1 platform and adjuvant technologies and represents a near term clinical program using an ex vivo approach," said Alison Taunton-Rigby, CEO of Aquila Biopharmaceuticals. "The initial therapy we plan to investigate involves removal of a blood sample from a patient, expansion of the patient's NK T cells in vitro using the antibodies, and reinfusion of the expanded NK T cells back into the individual patient."
The antibodies were discovered as a result of collaboration between scientists at BIDMC and DFCI who were studying NK T cells, a population of T cells that are distinguished by their expression of a cell surface marker found on natural killer (NK) cells and a conserved invariant T cell receptor. Additional research has shown that NK T cells respond to antigens presented by CD1. CD1 proteins comprise a natural antigen processing and presentation system that Aquila is developing for use in immune modulating products.
Aquila Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. is a life sciences company developing and commercializing a range of proprietary products that enhance the immune response in animals and humans. The Company's products are intended for use in treating, controlling and preventing infectious diseases, cancers and autoimmune disorders.
Aquila's products include: Leucogen(R) for protection against feline leukemia virus (approved for U.S. and European use in 1991); Quilimmune-P(TM), a human healthcare product for prevention of pneumococcal infections in the elderly; and Quilimmune-M(TM), a human healthcare product for preventing malaria; and preclinical CD1 programs on tuberculosis, Chlamydia infections and cancer. The Company also licenses its immune enhancement technologies, and current partners include SmithKline Beecham, Aventis Pasteur, Wyeth Lederle, VaxGen, Bristol-Myers Squibb (Progenics Pharmaceuticals), Elan Corporation p.l.c. and Virbac S.A.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, research and teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of CareGroup Healthcare System. BIDMC is the third largest recipient of National Institutes of Health research funding among independent U.S. teaching hospitals.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.net) is a principle teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is the only center in New England to be both a federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for AIDS Research.
Statements in this release, which relate to expectations and objectives of management for future operations of Aquila Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., or which otherwise relate to future performance, are forward looking statements. Actual results may differ from those projected as a result of product demand, pricing, market acceptance, economic conditions, intellectual property issues, competitive products, risks in product and technology development, and other risks identified in the Company's Securities and Exchange filing