VANCOUVER, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ - iCo Therapeutics Inc. announced today that it has selected Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ISIS) to manufacture and supply iCo 007. Under terms of the agreement, Isis will produce a sufficient quantity of iCo 007 for use in all Phase I and II studies. iCo 007 is a second-generation antisense drug being developed by iCo Therapeutics for various eye diseases caused by the formation of new blood vessels including macular edema, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. "Isis was selected as our manufacturing partner based on their expertise and experience in antisense and oligonucleotide chemistry and manufacturing," said Andrew Rae, President and Chief Executive Officer of iCo Therapeutics. "Isis' leadership in this area gives us great confidence in their ability to produce the cGMP grade material required as we move into human clinical testing with this compound." iCo 007 is an antisense inhibitor of c-Raf kinase, an enzyme important in the signal transduction pathway triggered by VEGF and other important growth factors. In preclinical studies, antisense inhibition of c-Raf kinase was associated with a reduction in the formation of new blood vessels in the eye, suggesting c-Raf kinase inhibition could be valuable in the treatment of both AMD and diabetic retinopathy. iCo plans to submit an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for iCo 007 to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 4th quarter of 2006. iCo was licensed from Isis in August 2005. "We are pleased to be selected as iCo's manufacturing partner and look forward to the advancement of iCo 007 into human clinical trials," said C. Frank Bennett, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Antisense Research at Isis Pharmaceuticals. "Licensing iCo 007 is another example of our partnering programs to expand the reach and potential of antisense therapeutics and participate in the success of multiple companies and products." ABOUT ANTISENSE Antisense drugs are short, chemically-modified RNA-like and DNA-like molecules that scientists design to complement a small, specific segment of messenger RNA (mRNA). An antisense oligonucleotide hybridizes with a complementary target RNA to form a duplex. The formation of this duplex prevents the target RNA from functioning normally. Antisense inhibitors can target specific aspects of ocular disease processes and have ideal properties as therapies for the eye. The second-generation 2'MOE (2'-O-methoxyethyl modified oligonucleotides) class of compounds has been shown to exhibit favorable kinetics and excellent tolerability. The mechanism of action of antisense drugs enables the inhibition of genes that are not easily targeted with traditional small molecule or antibody therapies. ABOUT iCo THERAPEUTICS, INC. iCo Therapeutics Inc. is an emerging, Vancouver-based biotechnology company focused on developing pre-existing drugs for a range of new conditions affecting isolated biological environments - areas such as the eye, spinal cord, or joints - where locally-administered application of these therapies would have minimal systemic distribution and fewer safety issues. For more information, visit the company website at: www.icotherapeutics.com Business Development Contact: Finance/Investor Contact: Dr. John Clement, CTO Mr. John Meekison, CFO 604.602.9414 604.602.9414 Media Contact: Elayne Wandler, ABLE Communications 778.865.0172
SOURCE iCo Therapeutics Inc.