Cequent Pharmaceuticals Meets Novartis Option Fund Milestone; Continues to Next Phase to Validate Inflammatory Bowel Disease Targets in Vivo

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 General News
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 15 Cequent Pharmaceuticals, apioneer in the development of novel products to deliver RNAi-based treatmentsto prevent and treat human disease, announced that it has met its secondmilestone in its option agreement with the Novartis Option Fund and will moveon to the next phase to validate targets for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)using Cequent's proprietary TransKingdom RNA interference [tkRNAi(TM)]technology in animal models. Specific payment terms and targets were notdisclosed.

"IBD is actually a spectrum of diseases, and the power of RNAi is that youcould potentially design therapeutics specifically to target the individualforms of the disease," said Cequent President and CEO, Peter Parker. "When westarted the Novartis program, we were evaluating eight targets simultaneouslyas potential therapeutics for inflammatory bowel disease. Our milestone goal,which we accomplished, was to winnow the targets down to three that we willfurther validate in in vivo animal trials before Cequent selects the singletarget to be the subject of the Option agreement. We believe our success withthis work, along with progress in our other development programs for FamilialPolyposis (FAP) and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), demonstrate the potential ofour tkRNAi technology to become an important tool to better understand, andultimately, to treat many devastating diseases."

Said Steven Tregay, PhD, a managing director of Novartis Option Fund, "Weare impressed with both the quality and speed of the work that Cequent isdoing on the IBD program -- as well as the potential of their tkRNAi platform.Creating compounds to address eight targets and completing in vitro screeningin only nine months would have been virtually impossible with traditionalsmall-molecule-based drug discovery technologies. We're pleased to release themilestone payment to Cequent, and look forward to our continued relationshipboth as venture investor and partner."

About Cequent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (http://www.cequentpharma.com)

An early-stage biopharmaceutical company, Cequent is pioneering thedevelopment of novel therapeutics to prevent and treat a wide range of humandiseases -- from inflammatory diseases to cancer -- based on the company'sproprietary technology, TransKingdom RNA interference (tkRNAi). Cequent'sfirst products, now in pre-clinical development, are drug candidates targetingcolon-cancer prevention and inflammatory bowel disease. The company designedits powerful tkRNAi technology to deactivate specific disease-causing genessafely and effectively, using non-pathogenic bacteria as an engine to produceand deliver RNAi directly into cells. It is based on ground-breakingscientific research originating at The Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) andat the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. Aprivately held company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cequent wasestablished in 2006.

About Novartis Option Fund (http://www.venturefund.novartis.com)

The Novartis Option Fund is a $200 million fund that is part of theNovartis Corporate Venture Funds. Established in 1996, the Novartis VentureFunds currently manage over $550 million in committed capital and is investedin more than 50 private companies. The objective of the Novartis Option Fundis to seed innovative companies through initial and follow-on investment. Theinitial investment is coupled with an option to a specific therapeutic programproviding early validation for the start-up company's technology/programs bylarge pharma. The Novartis Venture Funds team of nine investment professionalslocated in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts, brings togetherextensive expertise in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry and venturecapital.

SOURCE Cequent Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


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