FREMONT, Calif., Sept. 24 Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc., aclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developingnovel RNA interference-based therapeutics, announced today that it has signeda collaboration agreement with the University of Michigan Kresge HearingResearch Institute (http://www.khri.med.umich.edu/) to begin pre-clinicalstudies of several new siRNA compounds for the treatment of acute hearing lossassociated with acoustic (noise-induced) trauma through the inhibition ofQuark's novel targets. These pre-clinical studies will be led by ProfessorYehoash Raphael, Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology at the University ofMichigan.
These studies will target several different siRNA-based drug candidatesthat work by way of inhibition of Quark's proprietary target genes for theprevention and treatment of acoustic trauma-induced acute hearing loss. Themulti-stage, animal model study will assess the ability to deliver these siRNAcompounds to relevant cochlear cells in the inner ear. The efficacy of theselected siRNA compounds before and after acoustic trauma, the residence timeof siRNA in the inner ear cells, and the duration of the therapeutic siRNAeffect will also be primary focuses of the studies.
Daniel Zurr, CEO of Quark Pharmaceuticals, commented, "The establishmentof this significant research collaboration with the University of Michiganenables us to expand our research program aimed at preventing and treatinghearing loss. With an estimated 28 million Americans having some degree ofhearing loss, this is a significant medical issue in the United States andthroughout the world. Moreover, hearing loss is an under-diagnosed and under-treated health issue. Quark continues to draw on its expertise in thedevelopment of siRNA-based therapeutics and we continue to broaden ourpipeline portfolio to include new drug candidates that act by way ofinhibiting our novel targets for this disease and an increasing number ofindications with unmet medical needs."
Quark Pharmaceuticals expects to file an IND before the end of 2007 forits first hearing loss drug candidate, AHLi-11, for the prevention ofcisplatin (a chemotherapeutic agent) induced ototoxic hearing loss.
About Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical companyfocused on discovering and developing novel therapeutics based on itsproprietary gene discovery science and technology, with an initial focus ondrug candidates that work through the natural mechanism in the cell known asRNA interference, or RNAi, for the treatment of diseases associated withoxidative stress. Quark believes that its proprietary target gene discoveryplatform, BiFAR(TM), combined with its ability to design and successfullydeliver synthetic molecules of the new class of RNAi therapeutics known assmall-interfering RNA, or siRNA, to specific organs in the body, enables theCompany to rapidly develop drug candidates. Quark has two internallydiscovered and developed lead product candidates: RTP801i-14 in phase 1clinical trial for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration, andAKIi-5 for the prevention of acute renal failure. The Company has licensedRTP801i-14 to Pfizer on an exclusive worldwide basis. Quark has, in addition,a product candidate portfolio of RNAi therapeutics based on novel targets andtherapeutic concepts discovered using BiFAR(TM) and designed for the treatmentof oxidative stress associated diseases of the inner ear, lungs and additionalorgans of the body.
Quark is headquartered in Fremont, California and operates research anddevelopment facilities in Boulder, Colorado and Ness-Ziona, Israel. Additionalinformation is available at www.quarkpharma.com
Various statements in this release concerning the Company's futureexpectations, plans and prospects, including its in