TRIANGLE SCIENCE COLLABORATION COULD IMPACT INFLUENZA, AVIAN FLU TREATMENT
NC State, Erimos Pharmaceuticals file patent for joint efforts
RALEIGH, NC (April 4, 2006) — Erimos Pharmaceuticals and North Carolina State University have filed a joint patent for use of a developmental Erimos product, EM-1421. The product offers potential promise for mitigating the oftentimes fatal complications of multiple influenza strains, among those, Avian Flu.
Scientific studies are currently under way at the NC State Department of Microbiology and at Erimos’ research and development headquarters on NC State’s Centennial Campus. Researchers believe the properties of Erimos’ lead drug compound EM-1421, which is currently in clinical trials for treatment of malignant tumors, could also be utilized in the treatment of certain infectious diseases like influenza.
Dr. Scott Laster, the NC State professor of microbiology who is heading this research effort, notes that there is much investigative work yet to be done. The research will evaluate an essential scientific mechanism of action of EM-1421 – its ability to modify the body’s extreme immune responses noted to cause lung damage and death in influenza.
“While our research to date is preliminary, indications are that EM-1421 could be used to treat influenza, and potentially Avian Flu as well,” Laster said. Because work on Avian Flu cannot be performed in the United States, that research would be done elsewhere. However, work at Erimos Pharmaceuticals and NC State throughout this year will be undertaken to determine if the drug is efficacious against other flu strains in laboratory experiments. If ongoing laboratory work yields further promise, Erimos will then determine whether to proceed into a clinical testing phase.
“We’re certainly excited that this compound offers multiple potential uses for the future treatment of diseases,” said Jonathan Heller, Ph.D. and vice president of research operations with Erimos Pharmaceuticals. “While our commitment remains focused on developing this drug for the treatment of cancer, we are pleased that EM-1421 may become an effective therapy for treating infectious diseases like influenza.”
“We’re honored to be collaborating with NC State in evaluating an enhanced treatment for flu, as well as other disease research efforts,” Heller said.
Dr. Laster’s work in the microbiology department of NC State is focused on the damage that occurs in the body due to excess inflammation. Many diseases, including influenza, are exacerbated by runaway inflammation, and Laster seeks to identify new methods of control. He focuses on natural systems including plant metabolites and viral gene products.
Erimos Pharmaceuticals is a rapidly emerging company focused primarily on the discovery, development and commercialization of cancer drugs. The company is currently in Phase I/II oncology clinical trials with EM-1421 in three U.S. locations: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.; Premiere Oncology, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and in Nashville, TN. Erimos’ exclusive licensure of NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid) derivatives from The Johns Hopkins University is aimed at creation of selective, effective medications with low toxicity profiles to treat serious diseases.
Erimos’ corporate headquarters are located in Houston, Texas, with primary research and development facilities on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh, N.C.
NC State is a nationally recognized leader in science and technology with historic strengths in agriculture and engineering. It is ranked 6th in technology strength of patents, 7th among national research universities in industry-funded research, 12th among national research universities in non-federally funded research, and has received more than 500 patents for beneficial technologies developed by its world-class faculty.