ZaBeCor, Acuity develop anti-inflammatory agent

August 1, 2006

Philadelphia-Acuity Pharmaceuticals and ZaBeCor Pharmaceutical Co. entered into a license option agreement in which Acuity gains exclusive development and commercialization rights to ophthalmic applications of a small interfering RNA (siRNA).

Philadelphia-Acuity Pharmaceuticals and ZaBeCor Pharmaceutical Co. entered into a license option agreement in which Acuity gains exclusive development and commercialization rights to ophthalmic applications of a small interfering RNA (siRNA).

ZaBeCor is developing the novel agent (Excellair) for pulmonary use. In preclinical trials, siRNA has shown promise to treat a variety of inflammatory disorders by silencing the gene for Syk kinase, a key protein associated with inflammation.

Preliminary data suggest that Excellair might help in inflammatory conditions of the eye, including uveitis and ocular allergies, according to the company. It also may have the potential to prevent the inflammation that contributes to vision loss in degenerative conditions such as macular degeneration.

"Its broad potential in ocular inflammatory disorders makes ZaBeCor's siRNA an important addition to our pipeline," said Dale Pfost, PhD, Acuity president and chief executive officer. "We intend to apply our growing expertise in the development of novel ophthalmic therapies to advance this compound into clinical trials with the same focus and efficiency we have achieved with Cand5."

According to a statement released by the company, Cand5, Acuity's lead compound, is the first-ever clinical use of RNA interference technology. The compound is in clinical trials to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. In addition, the company just completed patient enrollment in a phase II trial of Cand5 as a treatment for diabetic macular edema.

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