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Idun Acquires SMAC, a Key Apoptosis Regulating Gene.

- Novel Regulatory Gene Added to Idun's Intellectual Property Portfolio

Encompassing the Core Apoptosis Pathway in Humans -

SAN DIEGO, April 25 /PRNewswire/ --

Idun Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of drugs targeting apoptosis, today announced a key licensing agreement with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (UT Southwestern). This agreement gives Idun the exclusive rights to the Second Mitochondria-derived Activator of Caspase (SMAC) gene, which is known to be involved in the initiation of apoptosis.

Apoptosis is the biological process by which cells undergo genetically programmed death in response to a disease or as part of the aging process. Modulation of this pathway by drugs is likely to form the basis for treatments of a wide range of diseases including cancer, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. The SMAC gene encodes a protein known to play a critical role in the initiation of apoptosis. The gene was identified by Dr. Xiaodong Wang, Assistant Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at UT Southwestern, and his colleagues at UT Southwestern. Dr. Wang's characterization of SMAC showed that it stimulates Apaf-1 mediated activation of caspase 9, which in turn initiates the process of apoptosis and leads to cell death.

"This is a novel regulatory protein in the apoptosis pathway that works by promoting Apaf-1 and procaspase-9 activity," said Dr. Hua Zou, Senior Research Scientist, Idun Pharmaceuticals. "SMAC does not resemble any protein with known function and represents a novel protein in apoptosis in mammalian cells. It is another important piece to the apoptosis regulation puzzle and a further understanding of its role can help to understand apoptosis and develop drugs with therapeutic benefit that intervene in the cell death process."

"This agreement provides Idun with the exclusive access to an important component of the human apoptosis pathway," said Dr. Kevin Tomaselli, Vice President of Discovery Research at Idun Pharmaceuticals. "SMAC is a central regulator of apoptosis in human cells through its ability to regulate the activation of caspases, a unique class of proteases that are involved in apoptosis."

"SMAC is an important component in the core apoptosis pathway and this license helps maintain Idun's preeminent position in this field," stated Dr. Steven Mento, President and CEO of Idun Pharmaceuticals. "It complements Idun's existing caspase patent portfolio and brings the number of issued and pending patents to 72 and 205, respectively, which collectively encompass 24 genes involved in apoptosis."

Idun Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, CA. It creates innovative human therapeutics with a primary focus on controlling apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Idun believes that controlling the cell death process will have utility in treating cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, ischemic disorders and cardiovascular disease. The company has adopted a commercialization strategy encompassing strategic collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies, internal, independent development of selected small molecule therapeutics, and out-licensing of diagnostics, gene therapies, and bioproduction technologies. Idun has a broad patent portfolio covering the fundamental and core technologies involved in the regulation of cell death and has established partnerships with Abbott Laboratories in cancer, with Elan Corporation, plc in stroke, and Becton Dickinson and Company in research reagents.

Contact:

Idun Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Steven J. Mento, Ph.D.

President and CEO

(858) 623-1330

http://www.idun.com

Noonan/Russo Communications, Inc.

Andi Wakayama

(415) 677-4455 x 211

http://www.noonanrusso.com

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 25, 2001
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