The agreement grants the exclusive right to Oxiquant to develop and market technology aimed at preventing adverse side effects linked to chemotherapy developed in the laboratory of Ed Neuwelt, M.D., professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the OHSU School of Medicine. Neuwelt also operates and conducts research at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Subsequent to the license agreement, Oxiquant executed an agreement to merge with Adherex Technologies, Inc., Ottawa, Canada. Upon approval of the merger by the shareholders of both Adherex and Oxiquant, Mark C. Rogers, M.D., M.B.A., chairman and chief executive officer of Innovative Drug Delivery Systems, Inc., will become chairman of the board of the newly merged company that will operate under the name Adherex Technologies, Inc. Fred Mermelstein, Ph.D., president and founder of Oxiquant, Inc. and director of venture capital at Paramount Capital will also serve on the board of directors. John Brooks, CFA, will continue in his role as chief executive officer of Adherex.
The technology licensed to Oxiquant revolves around the research of Neuwelt, the recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Neuwelt has focused his studies on the Blood Brain Barrier Program at OHSU and on the discovery of therapeutics that protect against the adverse side effects associated with certain chemotherapy drugs. For example, his group is studying a chemoprotectant, N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), for the prevention of bone marrow suppression and mucosal damage linked to chemotherapies. Neuwelt's lab has also discovered how to administer sodium thiosulfate (STS) through a specific time-route-dose method to dramatically reduce hearing loss associated with platinum-based chemotherapy drugs. The compound is currently being evaluated in a phase II clinical trial at OHSU under the direction of Neuwelt. Additional research is also being carried out to extend the indications for both NAC and STS at OHSU. Preclinical experiments indicate that STS and NAC may be able to decrease the damage to various organs that can result from the absence and return of oxygen in the blood.
"Children are the largest group of patients that may benefit from STS," said Neuwelt. "Since hearing loss is an untreatable and currently unpreventable side effect of some of the most effective anti-cancer agents, we believe our research holds great promise."
Robin Norris, M.D., president and chief operating officer of Adherex agrees. "Many children go on to experience learning difficulties as a result of their hearing loss. Because there is no treatment currently available, we view STS as a drug with the potential to get to the market by 2005 - 2006."
"We believe this licensing agreement is just one example of how promising medical research breakthroughs can result in strong business opportunities that benefit OHSU and the state of Oregon," said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., director of technology and research collaborations at OHSU. "Following the agreement and merger, OHSU now holds stock in a valuable, publicly traded company. Most importantly, however, this agreement moves a promising technology one step closer to possibly benefiting thousands of cancer patients across the country."
Oregon Health & Science University, based in Portland, Ore., is home to schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing and science and engineering. The university also includes two hospitals; numerous primary and specialty clinics; multiple research institutes; and several community service and outreach units.
Oxiquant is a private, oncology-focused bio-pharmaceutical company developing products for use in cancer chemotherapy. Oxiquant was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on February 13, 2001, under the name Oxiquant, Inc. Oxiquant's head office is located at 787 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY, 10019, and its registered office is located at 615 South DuPont Highway, Kent County, Dover, Del. 19901.
About Adherex Technologies
Adherex Technologies, Inc, (TSX:AHX) is an Ottawa-based biotechnology company that develops therapeutic drugs based upon its proprietary cell adhesion platform technology. The lead compound, EXHERIN, works to destroy the blood vessels that feed a cancerous tumor, essentially destroying the tumor's food supply. Adherex's unique cell adhesion platform has the potential for diverse applications, including drug delivery through the skin. For more information, please visit Adherex's Web site at www.adherex.com.
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Certain information contained in this news release is forward-looking and is subject to unknown risks and uncertainties. The actual results, performance or achievements of the company may differ materially from the results, performance or achievements of the company expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.