Alethia BioTherapeutics Inc.

Alethia BioTherapeutics Inc.

October 03, 2007 08:01 ET

Alethia Biotherapeutics Inc. Announces in-Licensing of Family of Monoclonal Antibodies to Treat Metastatic Cancer

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 3, 2007) - Alethia Biotherapeutics Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, announced today that it has concluded an agreement on the terms and conditions of an option to license the exclusive worldwide therapeutic and diagnostic rights on Clusterin-specific antibodies from the National Research Council Biotechnology Research Institute (NRC-BRI). Under the terms of the option agreement, Alethia obtains a family of high-affinity antibodies that block the function of secreted Clusterin to prevent tumor invasion. Alethia also gains access to the NRC-BRI's expertise in the humanization and production of therapeutics antibodies which will accelerate the development of these monoclonals to the clinical stage.

"We are extremely excited about this agreement with the NRC-BRI," said Mario Filion, Executive VP and Chief Scientific Officer of Alethia. "The validity of treating metastatic cancer by halting the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), one of the critical steps of tumor evolution and invasion, is only starting to emerge. Clusterin, as a major contributor to this process, represents a novel target for EMT and has tremendous potential in several oncology indications."

One of the most deleterious complications in oncology, is the ability of primary tumors to invade other tissues, a process termed metastasis. Many studies have shed light on the biological mechanisms responsible for tumor invasion and increasing evidence points to a process called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. During EMT, a process normally involved in embryogenesis and wound healing, epithelial cells lose adherence, become migratory, and change into mesenchymal cells that display properties that facilitate the invasion of tumors to other sites. Despite the identification of several factors that are stimulated during EMT, few have emerged as therapeutic targets that can specifically prevent this process to reduce tumor invasion. Recent studies by researchers at NRC-BRI have provided compelling evidence that secreted Clusterin is not only stimulated, but directly implicated in EMT. Their findings have identified the region of Clusterin directly involved in EMT and monoclonal antibodies targeting this part of the protein have shown efficacy in animal models of metastatic breast cancer. These studies provide the foundation for further pre-clinical and clinical development of anti-Clusterin antibodies that will be undertaken by Alethia.

"This transaction is very strategic for Alethia as it is not only adds a promising compound to its cancer product portfolio but also brings expertise and know-how to Alethia that will be required for the humanization and development of its proprietary mAbs against its most promising targets in oncology," said Yves Cornellier, Alethia's President and Chief Executive Officer. "This will put us in a position to rapidly advance this product to clinical development in the short term."

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About Alethia Biotherapeutics Inc.

Alethia is a Montreal-based biotechnology company that specializes in the development of focused therapeutic strategies in cancer and cancer-related complications. The Company applies its unique functional genomics platform to identify and validate highly specific disease-related candidate genes in ovarian cancer and severe bone loss. In addition to therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, Alethia is also engaged in the preclinical development of a chemosensitizer that will improve the response of tumors to chemotherapeutic drugs in ovarian and colorectal cancer.

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