Amersham (LSE,NYSE,OSE:AHM), a leader in medical diagnostics and in life sciences, announced the in-licensing of a class of molecules from the University of Pittsburgh targeting amyloid plaque in the brain. Amersham's strategy is to identify a lead candidate for clinical evaluation as a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) diagnostic and monitoring agent for Alzheimer's Disease. Financial terms of this agreement have not been disclosed.
Other molecules in the class will also be utilized by Amersham's pharmaceutical company partners through the Company's Imanet™ network of imaging research centres to accelerate and facilitate the development of novel therapeutic drugs that target Alzheimer's Disease.
"The in-licensing of these molecules demonstrates our strategy of moving into key disease areas where there is both considerable medical need. Over several years, through our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, we have evaluated these molecules and have amassed a compelling body of pre-clinical and clinical data supporting their safety and utility. These molecules bind directly to amyloid plaque, which is key to tracking Alzheimer's Disease progression. We look forward to continued evaluation and selection of a lead candidate for clinical development. The potential commercialisation of an Alzheimer's diagnostic imaging agent for PET opens up the possibility of an earlier, objective diagnosis for Alzheimer's Disease, which would mark a dramatic advance for the patients and families affected by this condition," said Peter Loescher, President of Amersham Health.
"Up to now, amyloid plaque, which is implicated in Alzheimer's Disease progression, has been an unseen enemy. An Alzheimer's Disease PET diagnostic could accelerate the development of a wide range of therapeutics for the disease by enabling us, to definitively measure a potential therapy's ability to stop or reverse amyloid plaque deposits," said Dr. William Klunk, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, of the University of Pittsburgh.
"Our R&D efforts are focused around identifying the best product candidates - either internally or externally and moving these into clinical trials as rapidly as possible. With regards to our Alzheimer's program, we have sought to in-license the molecules that we believe are the most promising in development," said Bill Clarke, MD, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Amersham Health.
Initial preclinical development of these Alzheimer's PET molecules was first conducted by the University of Pittsburgh under the leadership of Dr. Chet Mathis, Professor of Radiology, and Dr. Klunk. Human studies were begun in February 2002 in collaboration with Uppsala University, Sweden, under the leadership of Dr. Bengt Langstrom. To date, in studies performed by the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Uppsala, and Uppsala Imanet AB, these molecules have been evaluated in approximately 40 human subjects. Uppsala Imanet AB is a joint venture between Amersham and the University of Uppsala and is within Amersham's international network of leading imaging research centres built principally around PET, which provide pharmaceutical companies with imaging solutions to accelerate their development of novel therapeutics.
PET is a rapidly growing nuclear medicine imaging technology unequalled by other imaging methods in its ability to provide diagnostic information at the molecular level. PET scans can detect changes at the sub-cellular or molecular level, enabling doctors to see small tumors, signs of heart disease or brain disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease, even before the disease symptoms manifest themselves. PET is currently the gold standard for determining the viability of heart tissue for revascularisation, allowing doctors and physicians to determine whether bypass surgery or transplant is the appropriate treatment.
Since PET can accurately monitor the progress of disease and a patient's response to treatment, the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly using PET to improve the speed and accuracy of evaluating the performance of new molecules in man, shortening times to bring new products to market and reducing risks in costly development programs. For patients, earlier diagnosis is improving opportunities for better treatment of cancer, heart disease and other neurological disorders.
Amersham plc (LSE.NYSE, OSE: AHM) is a leader in medical diagnostics and in life sciences. Headquartered in the UK, the company had sales of £1.62 billion in 2002 and has over 10,000 employees worldwide. Its strategy is to build its position as a leading provider of products and technologies enabling disease to be better understood, diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively.
Amersham Health, a business of Amersham plc, is a leading global pharmaceutical provider of diagnostic and predictive imaging products and services, providing healthcare professionals with products to expand and improve their diagnostic capabilities and contribute to the treatment of disease. Amersham Health is committed to finding innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions with a focus on cardiology, neurology and cancer.
Imanet™ was established by Amersham Health to create and use innovative imaging to facilitate and accelerate drug discovery and development, and to create new diagnostic intellectual property to enable physicians, to more accurately predict and diagnose disease and to tailor treatment accordingly. Amersham Health expects to add further centres to Imanet™ to expand its capabilities and increase capacity as the business grows.
For additional information, visit the Amersham Health Web site at www.amershamhealth.com or the Amersham corporate Web site at www.amersham.com
Graeme Holland - UK (media), +44 1494 54 2115
Alexandra Morris - UK (investors), +44 1494 54 2051
Lucy Morrison - US (investors and media), +1 732 322 0240
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center News Bureau
Craig Dunhoff +1 412 647 3555
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