SOURCE: Athenagen

February 20, 2007 08:00 ET

Athenagen Announces Name Change to CoMentis

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 20, 2007 -- Athenagen, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has re-named the company CoMentis, Inc., effective as of February 16, 2007. CoMentis was formed through the combination in 2006 of three companies: Athenagen, Osprey Pharmaceutical Company and Zapaq.

Athenagen was originally founded in 2004 to develop therapies targeting a novel angiogenic pathway mediated by the non-neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) found on endothelial cells. This new angiogenesis pathway was discovered at Stanford University by a team led by John Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., and including Ken Kengatharan, Ph.D., both co-founders of Athenagen. Athenagen's lead products based on this technology are a topical, anti-angiogenic therapy applied as an eye-drop for age-related macular degeneration and a topical pro-angiogenic gel for treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. Both products are currently in Phase II clinical development.

Osprey Pharmaceutical Company, founded based on pioneering work by William Kem, Ph.D., at the University of Florida in Gainesville, was created to develop therapies that stimulate the neuronal nAChR pathway to enhance cognition. Dr. Kem is an expert in identifying compounds that bind to alpha-7 nACh receptors and was one of the first to characterize the role of alpha-7 nACh receptors in cognition and memory. The alpha-7 nACh receptor has been shown to stimulate cognition without causing addiction or other side effects associated with stimulation of other nACh receptors. In April 2006, Athenagen acquired Osprey Pharmaceutical Company. Through this acquisition, Athenagen gained GTS-21, currently in Phase II trials in Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia and shortly in ADHD, as well as an extensive library of next-generation cognition enhancers.

Zapaq was founded in 2001 by Jordan Tang, Ph.D., of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and Arun Ghosh, Ph.D., now at Purdue University, both experts in the field of aspartic proteases. In 2000, Dr. Tang's groundbreaking discovery of beta-secretase, an aspartic protease which is a critical enzyme in beta amyloid production, was published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." Together with Zapaq scientists, Drs. Tang and Ghosh have characterized beta-secretase and its role in Alzheimer's disease and have developed a portfolio of drug candidates designed to inhibit the activity of this enzyme. Inhibition of beta-secretase could reduce beta amyloid production and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The lead beta-secretase inhibitor from this program is scheduled to begin clinical testing in 2007. In August 2006 Athenagen merged with Zapaq.

The result of all these strategic activities, CoMentis, is a biopharmaceutical company with two technology platforms, three clinical-stage products in development and a disease-modifying beta-secretase inhibitor product heading into the clinic.

"With CoMentis we have created a critical mass of products that address significant unmet medical needs," said W. Scott Harkonen, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of CoMentis. "We are excited to have assembled the products, team and capital to build a leading biopharmaceutical company. Moreover, we look forward to delivering five clinical trial results from our portfolio over the next 18 months."

In September 2006, CoMentis (then Athenagen) raised $50 million in a Series B financing led by Sanderling Ventures and Clarus Ventures. Index Ventures, Charter Life Sciences and Astellas Venture Capital also invested in CoMentis.

About CoMentis

CoMentis, which is pronounced co-MEN-tis, has its headquarters in South San Francisco, with research operations in both South San Francisco and Oklahoma City. The company is engaged in the discovery and development of small-molecule drugs to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, AMD and cognitive disorders. The company has two fundamental technology platforms: (i) nACh receptor agonists and antagonists for the treatment of angiogenesis mediated diseases and cognitive disorders; and (ii) beta-secretase inhibitors for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

CoMentis currently has four product development programs based on these two technologies: ATG3, a topical (eye drop) anti-angiogenesis compound for neovascular AMD; GTS-21, an oral agonist of the alpha-7 nACh receptor pathway for cognition enhancement; ATG2, a topical (gel) containing a pro-angiogenesis compound for diabetic foot ulcers; and ATG-Z1, an orally active beta-secretase inhibitor entering the clinic in 2007. For more information: www.comentis.com.

Contact Information

  • CONTACT:
    W. Scott Harkonen, M.D.
    President and CEO
    (650) 869-7600
    Email Contact