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 therapy. 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