Thursday May 11, 12:30 pm ET
Worldwide Licensing and Sponsored Research Agreements Focused on Axon Regeneration for Functional Recovery in CNS Disorders Should Enhance BLSI’s Intellectual Property Portfolio
HOPKINTON, Mass., May 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Boston Life Sciences, Inc., (Nasdaq: BLSI – News), a biotechnology company focused on diagnostic and therapeutic products for diseases of the Central Nervous System (CNS), today announced that it had entered into exclusive, worldwide license agreements and sponsored research agreements with Children’s Hospital Boston for axon regeneration technologies under development in the laboratories of Dr. Larry Benowitz and Dr. Zhigang He.
“BLSI is focused on developing world-class technologies in axon regeneration for functional recovery following severe CNS injury,” stated Mark Pykett, President and Chief Operating Officer of BLSI. “We believe that these agreements extend our existing capabilities in axon regeneration by potentially providing multiple avenues for intervention in functional CNS recovery. The agreement now encompasses over 70 issued and pending patents. As a result, we believe we now have an even stronger foundation for a leadership position in the field. We have worked closely with Children’s Hospital Boston to solidify our position in the science and the intellectual property supporting this effort.”
Dr. Benowitz and Dr. He are among the first researchers to identify key factors and mechanisms that promote and inhibit axon regeneration. Importantly, their studies are focused on differentiating the area of functional recovery based on axon regeneration from neuroprotection. We believe these cutting edge areas of research hold promise in advancing the development of “first-in-field” therapies targeted at restoring a variety of sensory and motor functions in patients after stroke, spinal cord, optic nerve and traumatic brain injuries.
Dr. Brenda Manning, Director of Licensing at Children’s Hospital Boston, commented, “We are pleased to continue and expand our collaboration with Boston Life Sciences through this extensive licensing and sponsored research arrangement. We believe that BLSI’s development team has the potential to translate the discoveries and technologies developed by investigators at Children’s Hospital Boston and produce valuable therapies to benefit victims of serious CNS injury.”
Under the research agreements BLSI has agreed to fund three-year sponsored research programs for approaches to activate pro-regenerative pathways that stimulate axon regeneration led by Dr. Benowitz and for approaches to deactivate anti-regenerative pathways that inhibit axon regeneration led by Dr. He. The simultaneous implementation of these sponsored research programs may open avenues for exploring combination therapies for intractable CNS disorders. The research also provides an opportunity to continue to enrich the application of the technologies and the Company’s intellectual property portfolio.
About Dr. Benowitz and Dr. He
Dr. Larry Benowitz is noted for his work in the field of axon regeneration and his contributions to the discovery of the GAP-43 protein along with his recent work with inosine, oncomodulin and mannose, factors that up-regulate the expression of genes required for axon growth. Dr. Benowitz’s research goals are to discover the basic mechanisms that control the growth of nerve connections and to apply insights from this work to promote regeneration and functional recovery after CNS injury. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he completed a fellowship in biology. He subsequently completed fellowships in psychology and brain sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Zhigang He is most noted for his work with the Nogo receptor mediated pathway and identification of factors that inhibit axon regeneration. His laboratory is researching the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine the motility and directionality of developing and regenerating axons. He aims to use these paradigms to design therapeutic strategies to stimulate the outgrowth or retraction of specific axonal tracts in human diseases. Dr. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne at UCSF. Dr. He is a Klingenstein Fellow in Neuroscience, a John Merck Scholar, a McKnight Scholar, and is a recipient of Ameritec Prize for significant accomplishment toward a cure for paralysis in 2005.
About Axon Regeneration
When you get a cut on the tip of your finger, new peripheral nerves are able to develop and make connections with other nerves restoring the feeling to your fingertip. This process is known as nerve regeneration. However, this process does not occur in the case of brain or spinal cord injury, where useful function is often permanently lost because damaged nerve cells are unable to regrow their connections, and uninjured nerve cells are unable to form new connections to compensate for ones that have been lost.
For many years researchers have been investigating ways to improve outcome following injury to the CNS. Two such strategies are axon regeneration and neuroprotection. Neuroprotection strategies in acute CNS injuries such as stroke seek to minimize functional loss by preventing further tissue damage. Conversely, axon regeneration strategies seek to restore functionality lost as a result of injury by reconnecting the neural pathways through new axon growth. However, a number of factors prevent this nerve growth from occurring.
Recent evidence shows that mature nerve cells can be stimulated to re-establish and grow new connections under certain circumstances. This process can be accomplished by activating pathways that are pro-regenerative (stimulating) or by counteracting anti-regenerative (inhibitory) signals. Axon regrowth can be stimulated by a variety of growth factors and other naturally occurring agents.
Examples of this have been demonstrated by Dr. Larry Benowitz’s research with inosine (a purine nucleoside), mannose (a simple sugar) and oncomodulin (a small protein). Inhibitors of regeneration, present in the cellular environment around the injury, are major obstacles to axon regeneration, particularly right after the injury. Promoting nerve cell growth by turning off or blocking these inhibitory signals could benefit patients suffering from strokes or other injuries to the CNS and is the focus of Dr. Zhigang He’s research. We believe research from the Benowitz and He laboratories shows that combining these two approaches gives much stronger regeneration than using either one alone.
Boston Life Sciences, Inc. (BLSI) is engaged in the research and clinical development of diagnostic and therapeutic products for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Its Molecular Imaging Program includes: ALTROPANE® molecular imaging agent which is in Phase III clinical trials as an aid in the diagnosis of Parkinsonian Syndrome (PS) and a Phase II clinical trial for the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as an active preclinical program for next generation imaging agents. The Company’s other research and pre-clinical CNS programs include: an Axon Regeneration Program aimed at functional recovery after stroke, a DAT Blocker program aimed at symptom management and modification of disease progression in Parkinson’s Disease and an Ocular Program aimed at optic nerve injury, wet age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. BLSI’s current research collaborations include Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston.
The foregoing release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding Boston Life Sciences’ expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including the Company’s current and future development programs including those programs focused on axon regeneration, licensing and collaboration arrangements and intellectual property. Forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “could increase the likelihood,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “is planned,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “will enable,” “would be expected,” “look forward,” “may provide,” “would” or similar terms, variations of such terms or the negative of those terms. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors including those risks, uncertainties and factors referred to in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005, as amended, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the section “Risk Factors,” as well as other documents that may be filed by Boston Life Sciences from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result of such risks, uncertainties and factors, the Company’s actual results may differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements discussed in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein. Boston Life Sciences is providing the information in this press release as of this date and assumes no obligations to update the information in this press release.