ImQuest Receives $6.4 M Five Year Award from NIH to Develop Long-Lasting Combination Topical Microbicides To Prevent HIV Transmission

Thursday, August 7, 2008 General News
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FREDERICK, Md., Aug. 6 ImQuest BioSciences announced todaythe successful acquisition of funding from the National Institutes of Healthto support the development of a long lasting, safe, and acceptable combinationtopical microbicide product. ImQuest and a consortium of microbicideresearchers from four major U.S.-based universities will develop a highlyinnovative product from the portfolio of microbicides being developed byImQuest, including the highly active dual-acting pyrimidinediones, the virusattachment and fusion inhibitor ISIS 5320, and the virus-inactivatingNCp7-targeted thioesters. The $6.4 million award for studies to be performedin the Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Topical microbicides(IPCP-HTM), which is co-sponsored by the NIAID and DMID, will be led byPrincipal Investigator Robert W. Buckheit, Jr., Ph.D., Executive VicePresident and Chief Scientific Officer of ImQuest. Other participatinginvestigators include Dr. Patrick Kiser of The University of Utah, Dr. DavidKatz of Duke University, Dr. Kathleen Morrow of The Miriam Hospital/BrownUniversity, and Drs. Lisa Rohan and Charlene Dezzutti of The University ofPittsburgh. Dr. Todd Parsley and Ms. Karen Watson of ImQuest will also playkey roles in the performance of the program.

"This award forms the foundation of our efforts to develop a topicalmicrobicide to reduce the incidence of sexual transmission of HIV, especiallyin the developing world where women now account for over 50% of people livingwith HIV and are in dire need of an effective microbicide product," said Dr.Buckheit. "It is our goal to develop a multi-product barrier for women thatwill inhibit several steps in the process of HIV infection, suppress thetransmission of both wild type and resistant viruses, and which will only needto be applied once per week, or even once per month."

The IPCP-HTM project will focus on the development of ImQuest's portfolioof microbicide products and the proposed combination microbicide will providea three layer barrier to HIV infection. Initially, the product will inactivateHIV and HIV-infected cells in the semen upon introduction to the vagina.Secondly, two separate products in the combination will prevent the initialattachment and subsequent entry of virus into the vaginal target cells,preventing infection. Finally, the third and most potent activity of theproduct will prevent the critical action of the virus-encoded reversetranscriptase inside the cell. Key features of the development program includethe formulation of the product for delivery as gels or intravaginal rings,pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations to demonstrate the feasibilityof the formulated product for use, acceptability studies to assure that thefinal product will be used by the women it is intended to protect, and theIND-directed preclinical and clinical activities required to initiateFDA-approved human clinical trials for the unique final product.

ImQuest CEO, Joseph McGuirl states, "We are highly honored that the NIHhas seen fit to fund this important microbicide development program and welook forward to working closely with our team of academic collaborators andthe NIH to successfully achieve our goals."

ImQuest Life Sciences, a privately held U.S. company located in Frederick,Maryland specializes in early stage drug development of novel compounds forthe treatment of infectious disease and cancer. ImQuest BioSciences, alsolocated in Frederick, Maryland, is a leading provider of anti-infectivetherapeutic and microbicide development services to the biotechnology andpharmaceutical industry.For further information regarding this press release please contact: Robert W. Buckheit, Jr., Ph.D. Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer ImQuest Life Sciences, Inc. 301-696-0274

SOURCE ImQuest BioSciences

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