SOURCE: Oxford Biomedica Plc

July 25, 2005 02:01 ET

Oxford Biomedica PLC announces Awarded Research Grant

OXFORD, UK -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 25, 2005 --

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    25 JULY 2005


Oxford, UK: 25 July 2005 - Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB), the leading gene therapy company, announced today that the UK Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association has awarded a research grant to support preclinical evaluation of MoNuDin for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the most common form of motor neurone disease. The grant is initially for £350,000, which will fund a key preclinical efficacy study and support preparations for clinical trials. The Company is targeting the start of clinical development in 2006-07.

MoNuDin is a novel gene therapy product, which delivers a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene, a neuroprotective factor, using the Company's proprietary LentiVector system. A previous preclinical study of MoNuDin showed that both onset and progression of disease was slowed and that life expectancy was extended by 30%, representing one of the most effective therapies reported in the field to date. These results were published in May 2004 in Nature magazine (Volume: 429, Issue: 6990 pp: 413-417).

Oxford BioMedica has previously secured financial support for MoNuDin from the US ALS Association. The MND Association and other US and UK charitable organisations are considering further sponsorship that could fund initial clinical trials of MoNuDin in ALS patients. ALS causes adult-onset, progressive motor neuron degeneration in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in paralysis and death three to five years after onset in most patients. There is currently no known cure for motor neurone disease, a condition that affects approximately 100,000 people in Europe and the USA.

Commenting on the grant from the MND Association, Oxford BioMedica's Chief Executive, Professor Alan Kingsman said: "We are very pleased to have received sponsorship from another leading charity. This grant from the MND Association provides further endorsement of MoNuDin's potential as a treatment of ALS, for which there is currently no effective therapy. There is considerable interest in this programme from charities and other organisations, which could lead to additional financial support".


For further information, please contact:
Oxford BioMedica plc:
Professor Alan Kingsman, Chief Executive        Tel: +44 (0)1865 783 000

The Motor Neurone Disease Association:
Sarah Fitzgerald, Head of PR & Media               Tel: +44 1604 611 840

City/Financial Enquiries:
Lisa Baderoon/ Mark Court/ Mary-Jane Johnson
Buchanan Communications                         Tel: +44 (0)20 7466 5000

Scientific/Trade Press Enquiries:
Sue Charles/ Katja Stout/ Ashley Lilly
Northbank Communications                        Tel: +44 (0)20 7886 8150

Notes to editors

1. Oxford BioMedica

Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB) is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in the development of novel gene-based therapeutics with a focus on the areas of oncology and neurotherapy. The Company was established in 1995 as a spin out from Oxford University, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Oxford BioMedica has core expertise in gene delivery, as well as in-house clinical, regulatory and manufacturing know-how. In oncology, the pipeline includes an immunotherapy and a gene therapy in multiple Phase II trials, and a preclinical targeted antibody therapy in collaboration with Wyeth. In neurotherapy, the Company's lead product is a gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, which is expected to enter clinical trials in early 2006, and four further preclinical candidates. The Company is underpinned by over 80 patent families, which represent one of the broadest patent estates in the field.

The Company has a staff of approximately 65 split between its main facilities in Oxford and its wholly owned subsidiary, BioMedica Inc, in San Diego, California. Oxford BioMedica has corporate collaborations with Wyeth, Intervet, Amersham, Viragen, MolMed and Kiadis; and has licensed technology to a number of companies including Merck & Co, Biogen Idec and Pfizer. Further information is available at

2. MoNuDin® and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

MoNuDin comprises a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene delivered by the Company's proprietary LentiVector system. The product is designed to be injected into muscle, where it enters motor neurons via the neuromuscular junctions. It then travels along the nerves to the spinal cord by a process known as retrograde transport and mediates its therapeutic effect within the body of the nerve cells in the spine.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to a group of related diseases affecting the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is the most common form of MND. Motor neurons are the nerve cells along which the brain sends instructions, in the form of electrical impulses, to the muscles. Degeneration of the motor neurons leads to weakness and wasting of muscles. This generally occurs in arms or legs initially, some groups of muscles being affected more than others. MND is generally a steadily progressive disease, but the rate of progression varies greatly from one person to another.

MND can affect any adult at any age but most people who have MND are over the age of 40 and the highest incidence is in the 50-70 age range. Men are affected slightly more often than women.

The precise figures for the incidence and prevalence of MND are still uncertain. In the UK, three people are diagnosed and three people die from MND every day. The average life expectancy of a patient is two to five years from time of diagnosis, but half the number of people with MND will die within 14 months of diagnosis. The estimated number of people living with MND in the UK is 5,000 at any one time. There are about 100,000 patients in Europe and the USA.

3. The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association

The MND Association was established in 1979. It provides care and support for people with MND and their families, and funds vital research into causes, treatments and a cure for MND. The Association funds 14 Care Centres across the UK - providing co-ordinated care under one roof for people with MND - and plans to expand that number over the next five years. The Association has around 100 staff, including 25 regional staff working with volunteers and families affected by MND out in the community. It has 85 Branches, providing support to people locally, over 2,000 volunteers and 300 Association Visitors.