Bionovo Announces Publication Describing the Discovery of Distinct Classes of Genes Regulated By Estrogen Receptor Beta

Results are Published In the Journal of Biological Chemistry

Jun 11, 2010, 07:00 ET from Bionovo, Inc.

EMERYVILLE, Calif., June 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Bionovo Inc. (Nasdaq: BNVI) today announced the publication of results from a study demonstrating the three distinct classes of genes regulated by estrogen receptor beta (ERB). The results are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. This is an important discovery for future development of selective drugs regulating this pathway.

"Finding ways to prevent breast cancer requires a greater understanding of how the two estrogen receptors work.  When ERa is activated by estrogens it results in an increased risk for breast and uterine cancer. The other estrogen receptor, ERB, counteracts the cancer promoting property of ERa in breast cancer cells suggesting that drugs that activate ERB might prevent cancers," said Dr. Dale Leitman, M.D., Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley and Bionovo's Scientific Advisory Board Member. "This study identifies genes that are regulated by ERB. We found these genes are regulated by a different mechanism than ERa. These results are important step towards discovering ERB selective compounds that may regulate genes that block the cancer promoting effects of ERa."

Dr. Leitman continued, "Estrogens have been used extensively to treat various indications in women's health including menopausal symptoms. Unfortunately estrogens also result in significant increased risk for cancer, stroke and clotting events. Estrogen's effect is mediated by interacting with both estrogen receptors and regulating genes along both receptors' paths. Our current study shows that the presence of estrogen is obligatory for regulating genes with ERa but it is not required for ERB. The result is that ERB regulates three classes of genes. The first class is genes regulated by ERB alone, the second is genes regulated by ERB and estrogen and the third class is genes regulated by both ERB alone and ERB and estrogen. We also show that the mechanism involved is not singular and involves different cellular molecules critical for this selectivity. By determining how ERB regulates genes distinct from ERa it should become possible to target drugs that regulate only a subset of genes, which would be more selective and likely safer than the current estrogens used clinically that regulate both ERa and ERB similarly."  

"Bionovo's mission to discover and develop unique drugs for women's health and cancer is further enriched by the discovery of the unique classes of genes regulated by ERB. We now know we can selectively regulate via the ERB genes similar to estrogen as well as enhance the activity of genes regulated independently by ERB. This opens the door for new cancer preventive drugs and inflammatory diseases afflicting women far more than men. It also further elucidates the potential need for multiple compounds pharmacologically causing gene activation of various classes of genes along a single path."

The article is entitled, "Estrogen Receptor Beta Binds to and Regulates Three Distinct Classes of Target Genes," and is available at the Journal of Biological Chemistry website and at

About Menerba

Menerba is an oral botanical drug candidate designed for the safe, effective treatment of vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) associated with menopause. Menerba is an estrogen receptor beta (ERB) selective drug developed as an alternative to the products currently on the market, which have been shown to increase the risk for breast and uterine cancers. It has been shown that the increased risk of breast and uterine cancers is associated with activation of estrogen receptor alpha (ERa) and that activation of estrogen receptor beta (ERB) blocks the growth promoting effects on breast cancer cells.  Bionovo recognized the opportunity to commercialize a product that would be as effective as hormone therapy, without the health risks. Menerba has completed a Phase 2 trial with positive results for efficacy and has been evaluated by an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board and passed through a standard two-round examination for safety.

About Bionovo, Inc.

Bionovo, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of safe and effective treatments for women's health and cancer, markets with significant unmet needs and billions in potential annual revenue. The company applies its expertise in the biology of menopause and cancer to design new drugs derived from botanical sources, which have novel mechanisms of action. Based on the results of early and mid-stage clinical trials, Bionovo believes it has discovered new classes of drug candidates within its rich pipeline with the potential to be leaders in their markets. Bionovo is headquartered in Emeryville, California and its stock is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol "BNVI." For more information about Bionovo and its programs, visit

Forward Looking Statements

This release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to the business of Bionovo, Inc. that can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "believes," "expects," or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including uncertainties relating to product development, efficacy and safety, regulatory actions or delays, the ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection, market acceptance, physician acceptance, third party reimbursement, future capital requirements, competition in general and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Certain of these risks and uncertainties are or will be described in greater detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available at Bionovo, Inc. is under no obligation (and expressly disclaims any such obligation) to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE Bionovo, Inc.