Esperion Builds a Novel Peptides Program

Jan 12, 2000, 00:00 ET from Esperion Therapeutics

    ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Esperion Therapeutics, a
 privately held biotechnology company, today announced it has obtained
 worldwide rights for a series of novel peptides and the related intellectual
 property estate, creating a new peptide program to promote HDL-cholesterol
 elevation and enhance reverse lipid transport.  Esperion obtained the rights
 to these peptides when it hired Dr. Jean-Louis Dasseux, the lead scientist who
 discovered the peptides.
     "Adding this new peptide program to our product pipeline is a very
 important component in our business plan, as our goal is to build a portfolio
 of products that boost HDL and help remove cholesterol from the arteries,"
 said Roger S. Newton, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of
 Esperion.  "These peptides mimic the functional properties of the naturally
 occurring apoA-I protein, the major protein of HDL, and may show complementary
 activity with our other product candidates.
     The peptide program includes three new series of small amphipathic
 peptides, which mimic the functional properties of the apoA-I protein.
 Esperion's peptides interact with phospholipids to form new HDL-like
 particles, which are widely recognized to be the most effective particles for
 removing excess cellular cholesterol.  These new peptides activate
 stereospecifically the enzyme responsible for cholesterol esterification in
 the blood, a key factor in the reverse lipid transport pathway.  Additionally,
 these peptides are very small, consisting of 18 to 22 amino acids, compared
 with the apoA-I, which consists of 273 amino acids, thereby offering the
 opportunity for exploring alternative delivery methods and use as a chronic
     The Company's lead peptide, ESP 24218, has been proven to be very stable
 and non-immunogenic and has shown, in preclinical testing, to dramatically
 increase HDL cholesterol levels.  ESP24218 is expected to enter Phase I
 clinical trials for acute treatment in the fourth quarter of 2000, and
 Esperion will conduct preclinical studies on optimal delivery methods,
 including oral and inhaled administration.
     "We are potentially on the verge of developing a new concept for treating
 cardiovascular disease.  I am very excited about the therapeutic potential of
 these active peptides that will change the concept of what can be accomplished
 with peptides," said Jean-Louis Dasseux, Ph.D., Senior Director of Chemistry.
     There are approximately 20 patents filed, issued, and allowed for
 Esperion's new peptide program.
     Esperion Therapeutics, Inc., was founded in July 1998 with the goal of
 becoming the leader in the research, development, and commercialization of new
 medicines to treat metabolic diseases that may stem from low levels of plasma
 high density lipoprotein ("HDL" or the "good cholesterol").  These metabolic
 diseases include atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and Alzheimer's
 Disease.  Esperion's senior management team is made up of scientists from
 Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia & Upjohn (PNU).  Roger Newton, Ph.D.,
 Esperion's President and CEO, was the co-discoverer and product champion of
 Lipitor(R) and, together with his team, developed two other product candidates
 in clinical development at Parke-Davis, while the PNU team has excelled in
 both large-scale production of recombinant proteins and clinical research.
 David Scheer, board member and President of Scheer and Company, Inc., was
 responsible for establishing Esperion, including attracting venture capital
 from TL Ventures, Oak Investment Partners, and HealthCap KB as well as the
 founding management team.

SOURCE Esperion Therapeutics