Broomfield, CO – April 1, 2003 – Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading research and development facility and supplier of proprietary plant-derived biologically active ingredients to the natural products and pharmaceutical industries, has announced a collaboration agreement with Michigan-based biotech company 21st Century Therapeutics, Inc. for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel anti-cancer drugs targeted against human solid tumors, including colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer.
As part of the agreement, Unigen will supply 21st Century Therapeutics with botanical extracts, fractions and pure compounds for conducting a unique and innovative cellular assay in which “hits,” or drug leads, are discovered and targeted to selectively inhibit solid tumor cell growth with limited impact on normal cells. In the discovery process, Unigen will apply its technology platform, PhytoLogixTM, to dereplicate the hit fractions and isolate novel, solid tumor selective natural products for clonogenic, formulation and pharmacological studies at 21st Century Therapeutics.
This collaboration will allow 21st Century Therapeutics to access more than 6,000 plant extracts and 200,000 High Throughput Purification (HTP) fractions and pure compounds in Unigen’s PhytoLogixTM library, and to rapidly and efficiently identify and develop new anti-cancer drugs and put them into clinical trials. During the first stage of the agreement, 21st Century Therapeutics has already completed screening of 1,061 plant extracts with 36 positive hits against solid tumors. After carrying out further fractionation, Unigen has identified 13 medicinal plants from those positive hits for active compound isolation and identification. Both companies expect to have lead compounds moving into preclinical evaluation by the end of this year.
Dr. Qi Jia, Unigen’s Vice President of Scientific Affairs, said, “Natural product chemistry has played a very important role in cancer therapy and has accounted for 61% of anti-cancer drugs approved between 1983 and 1994. We believe it will continue to contribute in this therapeutic field by offering structure diversity and drugs even more efficacious than Taxol. It is exciting to integrate the discovery efforts of two technology-oriented institutes to form a collaboration that is sure to be productive and full of potential.”
Dr. Frederick Valeriote, President and CEO of 21st Century Therapeutics, commented, “Cancer is an insidious disease that, even after decades of research, continues to afflict millions of people each year.” He explained that a major problem with present day cancer chemotherapy is the serious deficiency of active drugs for the curative therapy of solid tumors. “We are determined to develop novel and powerful technology targeting various solid tumor cancers. We expect that further studies on plants will lead to unique chemical structures with significant clinical therapeutic values and are confident we will achieve that goal through our partnership with Unigen.”
Unigen’s primary technology platform, PhytoLogixTM, is a fully-indexed research resource that includes Bioprospecting, Bio-Informatics, High Throughput Purification (HTP), and Structure Dereplication processes. This proprietary technology allows the company to quickly search through tens of thousands of ethnomedicinal plants categorized by their traditional and historic uses. From the obvious to the unusual, PhytoLogixTM is one of the world's largest information sources for predictive discovery of ethnomedicinal plants, saving considerable time from the front end of the research process.
Other technology platforms at Unigen include Integrated Discovery SolutionTM and UniGenixTM, which include mechanism-of-action derived high throughput screenings, multiple-assay based efficacy confirmation, extensive safety evaluation, and gene expression technology—all providing a sophisticated process yielding patentable compounds and proprietary ingredients with market identification and differentiation.
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About Unigen Pharmaceuticals
Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a leading natural products research and development facility and proprietary ingredients supplier. The company is dedicated to the discovery of botanically derived therapeutic compounds that address consumer health needs and help improve the quality of human life. Unigen (www.unigenpharma.com), and sister company Aloecorp, are subsidiaries of Univera, Inc. Both companies focus on identifying and studying the unique ingredients of medicinal botanicals (Aloecorp’s focus is on Aloe vera) and then formulating proprietary raw materials for use in cosmeceutical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.
About 21st Century Therapeutics, Inc.
21st Century Therapeutics is a product-focused, development-oriented biotech company with a science team that has already placed six anti-tumor compounds into human clinical studies through licensing to pharmaceutical companies. Its exclusive ORION discovery and development platform combines a unique and novel in vitro Solid Tumor Selective (STS) technology with an exclusive Chemistry, Clonogenic, Formulation and Pharmacology studies (CCFP) platform to ensure that its drugs will be bioavailable and active in subsequent in vivo Therapeutic Assessment. Data from all these components, together with a Molecular Brushing (MB) platform, are blended in a proprietary manner to identify and characterize potential clinical strengths and weaknesses of an experimental anti-cancer drug. The added value of this approach includes early stage prediction of the drug’s therapeutic effectiveness in humans as well as the novel target mechanism by which it acts.