Covalon Technologies Ltd.

Covalon Technologies Ltd.

November 20, 2007 12:50 ET

Covalon Achieves Important Milestone in Its Cell-Based Gene Therapy for Treating Congestive Heart Failure and Tissue Regeneration

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2007) - Covalon Technologies Ltd. (the "Corporation" or "Covalon") (TSX VENTURE:COV) is pleased to announce that it has successfully achieved an important milestone with its EPAS1 technology that is expected to allow Covalon to engineer mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for increased expression of EPAS1, a hypoxia inducible factor. EPAS1 is a "master" gene that is a regulator of the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and several other important angiogenic proteins crucial to new blood vessel growth required to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to regenerative tissues by cell transplantation.

Covalon's cell therapy program is designed to generate cells that express useful genes at a site of cell therapy for treating ischemic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, chronic wounds, peripheral vascular disease and other conditions. Numerous studies have shown that bone marrow-derived stem cells may assist in tissue repair and regeneration of many tissues including myocardium, heart valves, damaged bone, skin, blood vessels and other tissues. Optimum healing and tissue regeneration requires new blood vessel formation. The cell therapy technology aims to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels through a process of therapeutic angiogenesis. The work is part of a research contract with Dr. Jacques Galipeau, MD, FRCP(C), Associate Professor of Medicine and Oncology at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital (McGill University), for isolation of cells required for Covalon's program in angiogenesis. Covalon's approach is intended to improve the function of damaged tissue, rather than merely address the symptoms of the disease. The EPAS1 technology is intended to restore the beating of the damaged heart tissue with a cell therapy that delivers muscle precursor cells loaded with the EPAS1 gene to enhance blood vessel growth. The therapy is also expected to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the damaged heart by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in damaged myocardium, by a process of therapeutic angiogenesis.

Covalon has successfully transduced porcine and human mesenchymal stem cells with EPAS1 and demonstrated that the transcription factor can effectively be over expressed in both human and porcine MSCs. The laboratory results show the ability of porcine and human MSCs to over-produce the transcription factor and that it binds DNA in the nucleus of modified cells. The transcription factor is known to act as a molecular switch for the production of vascular endothelial growth factor and several other angiogenic factors required for new blood vessel growth to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to regenerating tissues.

Dr. Frank DiCosmo, Covalon's CEO said, "The goal is to load precursor cells with Covalon's proprietary gene construct that stimulates blood vessel growth. The altered cells will be tested in vitro and in vivo pre-clinical studies for their ability to stimulate blood vessel growth and improve cardiac function in a porcine model of myocardial infarction. The demonstration of the transcription factor to bind nuclear DNA in human and porcine MSCs is an important milestone toward the objective since it demonstrates that cells can be effectively and efficiently manipulated at the genetic level to produce essential growth factors that may contribute to improved angiogenesis. Our program offers the potential for an exciting, minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery for those suffering from congestive heart failure".

The American Heart Association estimates that about 5 million U.S. residents are living with heart failure, and more than 550,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year. In 2005, the disease was estimated to cost an estimated $27.9 billion in direct and indirect health care expenses.

Covalon Technologies Ltd. is a developer of advanced medical products which has patented therapeutic biomaterials for wound care and surgical applications and coatings for medical devices. Polymer chemistry and surface coating technology have been combined to create a range of time-release drug delivery platforms that are applied to many medical devices. A variety of applications for this technology have been identified and specific products have been developed. These products feature solutions to many of the problems caused by the material properties of the medical devices currently offered by most manufacturers and suppliers.

This document contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or future performance. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "may", "will", "should", "expect", "plan", "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "predict", "potential", "continue" or the negative of any of these terms or comparable terminology. Such statements reflect the current views of management of the Company with respect to future events. Actual events or results may differ materially. Given these uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any such factors or to publicly announce the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect future results, events or developments.

The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. The TSX Venture Exchange has neither approved nor disapproved of the contents of this release.

Contact Information

  • Covalon Technologies Ltd.
    Frank DiCosmo, Ph.D.
    President & CEO
    (905) 568-8400
    (905) 568-5200 (FAX)