Cardion Acquires Tolerance Pharmaceuticals To Create Leader in Cell Transplantation Therapies

Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Cardion AG

    ERKRATH, Germany and BOSTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Cardion AG, announced
 today the acquisition of Boston-based Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to
 strengthen its ability to become a leading player in the field of cell
 transplantation and to build the immunology pillar of its business.  Assets
 and operations of Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will be merged into Cardion
 AG.  Research & Development work in immunology will be carried out by
 Cardion's US operating unit, based in Boston.  Financial terms of the
 transaction were not disclosed.
     The merged entity combines Cardion's broad capabilities in gene therapy
 and stem cell engineering with Tolerance's cutting-edge immunotherapy
 platform.  This immunotherapy platform complements Cardion's existing product
 portfolio to create a biopharmaceutical operation that focuses on
 cardiovascular gene therapy products, immunotherapeutic proteins, and stem
 cell-derived transplants.
     "The acquisition of Tolerance adds a critical cornerstone to Cardion's
 "three pillar" strategy of building a biopharmaceutical operation around
 cardiovascular gene therapy products, proteins that facilitate selective
 immunosuppression, and stem cell-derived transplants offering the possibility
 to regenerate damaged tissue in the human body," stated Dr. Michael Ruhl, CEO
 of Cardion.  "We are very excited about the great overall opportunities that
 will arise from the extensive synergies between Cardion's existing product
 portfolio and the immunotherapy platform and associated intellectual property
 brought to the operation by Tolerance."
     Tolerance's immunotherapy platform is based on a technology developed by
 Dr. Terry Strom, the principal founder of Tolerance, chief of immunology at
 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and professor of medicine at
 Harvard Medical School.  This technology and its associated product platform
 interfere with the IL-15 dependent pathway of immune system activation to
 selectively reprogram the immune system to ignore transplants and
 auto-antigens, a condition called tolerance.  "Cardion is well positioned to
 initiate therapeutic trials for the multiple opportunities offered by the
 IL-15 related immunotherapy platform pioneered in our laboratories," Dr. Strom
 said.
     "In particular, the possibility of combining tolerance induction
 strategies with cell transplantation offers the potential to radically alter
 the possibilities for treatment of many conditions including diabetes and
 myocardial infarction."  Dr. Strom will join Cardion's Supervisory Board
 (board of directors) and play a prominent role in the company's scientific
 advisory board.
 
     Founded in 1999, Tolerance was formed in part through license agreements
 with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), which owns most of the
 intellectual property.  BIDMC's Office of Corporate Research helped form and
 nurture the company.  Todd S. Keiller managed the technology transfer between
 BIDMC, Tolerance, and then Cardion.  Other founding scientists of Tolerance,
 some of whom also will serve on Cardion's scientific advisory board, include:
 Towia Libermann, Ph.D., director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and associate
 professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; Vikas Sukhatme, M.D., Ph.D.,
 chief of the BIDMC renal division, department of medicine, and Victor J.
 Aresty professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Manikkam
 Suthanthiran, M.D., Stanton Griffis distinguished professor of medicine at
 Weill Medical College of Cornell University and chief of nephrology and
 transplantation medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  The equity
 holdings in Tolerance of BIDMC and the founding researchers will convert to
 equity holdings in Cardion subsequent to the acquisition.
     Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, research and
 teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of
 CareGroup Healthcare System.  BIDMC is the third largest recipient of National
 Institutes of Health research funding among independent U.S. teaching
 hospitals.
     As a result of the merger with Intracardia in November 2000 and today's
 acquisition of Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Cardion now has four core product
 candidates that address areas of unmet medical need in therapeutic areas with
 extensive market potential:
 
     -- NOStentin -- a local, non-viral gene therapy for the prevention of
        Restenosis, the recurrent narrowing of blood vessels following balloon
        angioplasty.
     -- Depletin RA -- a tolerance inducing protein for the treatment of
        Rheumatoid Arthritis.
     -- Pancregeneratin -- a stem cell-derived pancreatic islet graft for the
        treatment of Diabetes.
     -- Cardioprotectin -- a cardiomyocyte stem cell graft to regenerate heart
        tissue following myocardial infarction.
 
     Cardion AG is a transatlantic biopharmaceutical company that integrates
 synergistic local gene delivery, stem cell engineering and tolerance induction
 capabilities to build a pipeline of cardiovascular gene therapy products,
 immunotherapeutic proteins and cell transplantation products.  Cardion focuses
 on high profile markets including coronary artery disease, rheumatoid
 arthritis, and diabetes.  The Company is based in Erkrath, Germany and Boston,
 USA.
 
 

SOURCE Cardion AG
    ERKRATH, Germany and BOSTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Cardion AG, announced
 today the acquisition of Boston-based Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to
 strengthen its ability to become a leading player in the field of cell
 transplantation and to build the immunology pillar of its business.  Assets
 and operations of Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will be merged into Cardion
 AG.  Research & Development work in immunology will be carried out by
 Cardion's US operating unit, based in Boston.  Financial terms of the
 transaction were not disclosed.
     The merged entity combines Cardion's broad capabilities in gene therapy
 and stem cell engineering with Tolerance's cutting-edge immunotherapy
 platform.  This immunotherapy platform complements Cardion's existing product
 portfolio to create a biopharmaceutical operation that focuses on
 cardiovascular gene therapy products, immunotherapeutic proteins, and stem
 cell-derived transplants.
     "The acquisition of Tolerance adds a critical cornerstone to Cardion's
 "three pillar" strategy of building a biopharmaceutical operation around
 cardiovascular gene therapy products, proteins that facilitate selective
 immunosuppression, and stem cell-derived transplants offering the possibility
 to regenerate damaged tissue in the human body," stated Dr. Michael Ruhl, CEO
 of Cardion.  "We are very excited about the great overall opportunities that
 will arise from the extensive synergies between Cardion's existing product
 portfolio and the immunotherapy platform and associated intellectual property
 brought to the operation by Tolerance."
     Tolerance's immunotherapy platform is based on a technology developed by
 Dr. Terry Strom, the principal founder of Tolerance, chief of immunology at
 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and professor of medicine at
 Harvard Medical School.  This technology and its associated product platform
 interfere with the IL-15 dependent pathway of immune system activation to
 selectively reprogram the immune system to ignore transplants and
 auto-antigens, a condition called tolerance.  "Cardion is well positioned to
 initiate therapeutic trials for the multiple opportunities offered by the
 IL-15 related immunotherapy platform pioneered in our laboratories," Dr. Strom
 said.
     "In particular, the possibility of combining tolerance induction
 strategies with cell transplantation offers the potential to radically alter
 the possibilities for treatment of many conditions including diabetes and
 myocardial infarction."  Dr. Strom will join Cardion's Supervisory Board
 (board of directors) and play a prominent role in the company's scientific
 advisory board.
 
     Founded in 1999, Tolerance was formed in part through license agreements
 with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), which owns most of the
 intellectual property.  BIDMC's Office of Corporate Research helped form and
 nurture the company.  Todd S. Keiller managed the technology transfer between
 BIDMC, Tolerance, and then Cardion.  Other founding scientists of Tolerance,
 some of whom also will serve on Cardion's scientific advisory board, include:
 Towia Libermann, Ph.D., director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and associate
 professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; Vikas Sukhatme, M.D., Ph.D.,
 chief of the BIDMC renal division, department of medicine, and Victor J.
 Aresty professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Manikkam
 Suthanthiran, M.D., Stanton Griffis distinguished professor of medicine at
 Weill Medical College of Cornell University and chief of nephrology and
 transplantation medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  The equity
 holdings in Tolerance of BIDMC and the founding researchers will convert to
 equity holdings in Cardion subsequent to the acquisition.
     Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a major patient care, research and
 teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of
 CareGroup Healthcare System.  BIDMC is the third largest recipient of National
 Institutes of Health research funding among independent U.S. teaching
 hospitals.
     As a result of the merger with Intracardia in November 2000 and today's
 acquisition of Tolerance Pharmaceuticals, Cardion now has four core product
 candidates that address areas of unmet medical need in therapeutic areas with
 extensive market potential:
 
     -- NOStentin -- a local, non-viral gene therapy for the prevention of
        Restenosis, the recurrent narrowing of blood vessels following balloon
        angioplasty.
     -- Depletin RA -- a tolerance inducing protein for the treatment of
        Rheumatoid Arthritis.
     -- Pancregeneratin -- a stem cell-derived pancreatic islet graft for the
        treatment of Diabetes.
     -- Cardioprotectin -- a cardiomyocyte stem cell graft to regenerate heart
        tissue following myocardial infarction.
 
     Cardion AG is a transatlantic biopharmaceutical company that integrates
 synergistic local gene delivery, stem cell engineering and tolerance induction
 capabilities to build a pipeline of cardiovascular gene therapy products,
 immunotherapeutic proteins and cell transplantation products.  Cardion focuses
 on high profile markets including coronary artery disease, rheumatoid
 arthritis, and diabetes.  The Company is based in Erkrath, Germany and Boston,
 USA.
 
 SOURCE  Cardion AG