CORTEX PHARMACEUTICALS ANNOUNCES PRE-CLINICAL RESULTS WITH MEMORY ENHANCEMENT DRUG AND VASOSPASM COMPOUNDS
Prospective Treatments For Mild Dementia Of Alzheimer's and Other Diseases IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CORX) today announced an experimental pharmaceutical compound that may significantly enhance learning and memory in the elderly. According to Gary Lynch, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at the University of California at Irvine, a company co-founder and co-founder of the University's Bonney Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, this compound is the first to act specifically on the biochemical processes in the brain that are most intimately involved in memory formation. Cortex plans to initiate human clinical trials within a year to determine if the agent is safe for humans, and if it can contribute to the management of mild dementias such as those caused by Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is a fatal neurodegenerative condition affecting 4 million Americans that imposes a financial toll estimated at $80 billion a year for diagnosis, custodial care, and other direct and indirect expenses, and whose human costs are incalculable.
New Memory Research Is Basis For Cortex Advances
Dr. Lynch explained that recent studies have precisely identified several biochemical processes that are likely to be critical to the formation of long- and short-term memory. These processes are the culmination of continual transmission of sensory information via millions of brief electrical pulses through the brain. The pulses are relayed across gaps (synapses) between nerve cells by neurotransmitters acting on receptors. The major receptor for fast communication in the brain, but not the periphery, is the AMPA variant of glutamate receptor. The drug developed by Dr. Lynch and collaborators enhance the operation of the AMPA receptor and thereby facilitate synaptic communication. "In many age-related degenerative disorders of the nervous system such as Alzheimer's, a significant portion of the brain's billions of synapses are lost, directly affecting memory and learning," noted Dr. Lynch. "The Cortex drug could help compensate for the loss of these synapses by boosting the efficiency of the remaining synapses to the flow of neurotransmitters." In addition, recent research has shown that the potency of synapses is closely related to the amount of brain activity needed to induce long-term potentiation (LTP), a physiological effect widely held to be the substrate of many forms of memory. "LTP is associated with the specific electrical activity in the brain related to learning and cognition -- it is almost as if the brain is rewiring itself, on a molecular level, during these processes," Dr. Lynch noted. By increasing the activity of a specific neuronal receptor (AMPA), the new compounds, designated AMPAKINE compounds by the company, increase the efficiency and duration of LTP in a selective manner. "The Cortex agent is aimed directly at those biochemical elements of the nervous system that decline with age," Dr. Lynch commented. The agent was selected from among 150 compounds developed by Lynch and his co-workers and recently in-licensed by Cortex for clinical development. The compound has the capability to freely penetrate the "blood-brain barrier" after oral administration, an important consideration for drugs targeting the central nervous system. Documented animal tests show that Cortex's lead AMPAKINE compound improves both short- and long-term memory ability in animals, Lynch observed. No toxic reactions have been observed with repeated administration of the AMPAKINE compound. Longer-term toxicology studies are planned for the coming months, and human clinical testing is expected to begin in 1994. Alan A. Steigrod, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cortex, noted that this research illustrates an exemplary collaboration of academic and industry resources to address the enormous unmet medical and emotional needs created by memory loss and cognitive deficits from Alzheimer's disease and similar conditions. "Additional studies are planned to ascertain the prospective therapeutic benefits and clinical risks of this compound," Steigrod said. "At this point, however, we are optimistic about the benefit that this product may have for the millions of patients afflicted with deficits of memory and cognition."
Developments in Vasospasm Research Program
Cortex also announced advances in its pre-clinical research program in vasospasm, a sudden contraction of the muscles lining arterial walls. The company's academic collaborators have found that its calpain inhibitors are effective at reducing vasospasm in coronary, carotid, and cerebral arteries. Vasospasm has been implicated in angina and myocardial ischemia, renal dysfunction, and is a significant complication of cerebral hemorrhage. Product development and commercialization rights in one area of the company's vasospasm research, cerebral vasospasm, have recently been challenged by Alkermes, Inc., exclusive licensee to calpain inhibitors from Cortex for neurodegenerative disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Alkermes recently asserted that such rights fall under their development and license agreement with the Company.
About Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Cortex is a publicly traded company whose primary mission is to discover and develop novel drugs for the treatment of age-related neurological diseases and disorders. The company was started in 1987 by its three scientific founders: Ralph A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Carl W. Cotman, Ph.D., and Gary S. Lynch, Ph.D., all of the University of California at Irvine. Core programs at Cortex, which is headquartered in Irvine, are directed toward the development of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of memory impairment and cognitive deficits associated with mild dementia and, over the longer term, for slowing or stopping the underlying disease pathology of Alzheimer's disease. -0- 11/2/93 /CONTACT: (Investor Contact) Alan A. Steigrod, president and chief executive officer, or Scott Hagen, vice president, chief financial officer, 714-727-3157; or (media) Peter Steinerman, 212-715-1677/ (CORX)
CO: Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ST: California IN: MTC SU:
LG-DH -- NY008 -- 9488 11/02/93 08:31 EST
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|Date:||Nov 2, 1993|
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