Broomfield, CO – February 20, 2004 – Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading research and development facility and supplier of proprietary, biologically active plant-derived ingredients to the natural products and pharmaceutical industries, has entered into a research collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to isolate and identify anti-solid tumor compounds for ultimate licensing and drug development by the pharmaceutical industry.
As part of this Material Transfer Agreement which protects the rights of all the parties involved, including the countries of origin of the source plants, and which is expected to net positive results within a year, Unigen will obtain 36 anti-solid tumor plant extracts from NCI’s Natural Products Repository and will utilize its PhytoLogix™ technology platform to carry out high-throughput purification (HTP) and identification. Unigen will submit the isolated natural compounds to the Josephine Ford Cancer Center for further screening of these selective inhibitors against breast, lung and colon tumor cells for the identification of active anti-solid tumor compounds that do not create toxicity in normal bone marrow stem cells.
The NCI’s solid tumor inhibitory plant extracts were discovered by the Josephine Ford Cancer Center, a division of the Henry Ford Health System, after screening more than 5,000 plant extracts in NCI’s Natural Products Repository also acquired as part of a Material Transfer Agreement between the Center and the NCI. The Ford Cancer Center will continue to work with NCI and screen thousands of samples per year from NCI ’s library and identify “hit” extracts that it will then provide to Unigen for isolation and identification. All three parties will work together to further pursue the lead compounds in preclinical and human clinical studies, which may lead to FDA-approved therapeutic agents.
“This collaboration is quite unique,” said Unigen’s Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Qi Jia, “because it brings together NCI’s natural product diversity, Unigen’s high- throughput technologies and the Ford Cancer Center’s novel solid tumor selective discovery platform into one integrated effort to conquer the insidious solid-tumor diseases afflicting millions of people around the world.”
In 2003, the Ford Cancer Center also worked with Unigen and completed the screening of more than 2,000 plant extracts from Unigen’s PhytoLogix™ ethnomedicinal plant library. Based on these results, Unigen has since completed the isolation and identification of nine potent anti-solid tumor compounds, generated from 14 lead plants. Seven lead compounds have been moved into the next phase of pre-clinical evaluation at the Ford Cancer Center.
Dr. Frederick Valeriote, Director of Drug Discovery Development at the Josephine Ford Cancer Center, said, “I have worked with Unigen for several years and am impressed with their technological capabilities to find novel natural compounds in a relatively brief period of time. The goal of the Josephine Ford Cancer Center is to discover, develop and commercialize new experimental anticancer drugs targeted against human tumors, and we are confident that this collaboration with Unigen and the National Cancer Institute will significantly accelerate the discovery process.”
Dr. Gordon Cragg, Director of the Natural Products Branch at the National Cancer Institute, said, “The National Cancer Institute is dedicated to conducting and supporting research regarding the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer. The efforts of Unigen Pharmaceuticals, the Josephine Ford Cancer Center and the many other organizations supporting these ideals will help us achieve this mission.”
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About Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Unigen is a leading natural products research and development company 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. Its research and discovery process includes extensive work at both the human cell and gene level. Unigen (www.unigenpharma.com), and sister company Aloecorp, are subsidiaries of Univera, Inc. Unigen and Aloecorp each 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.
Regan Miles, V.P. – Sales & Marketing
Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.