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Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics and Predix Pharmaceuticals Announce Drug Discovery Collaboration to Treat Cystic Fibrosis

Woburn, Mass. and Bethesda, Md., March 16, 2005 – Predix Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., a drug discovery and development company, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, Inc. (CFFT), the drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, announced today that they have signed a research, development and commercialization agreement.  The company will receive up to $12.5 million in milestone–driven funds over the next three years through a therapeutics development award from CFFT for two programs. 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease affecting approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leading to life-threatening lung infections, and obstructs the pancreas, causing difficulty absorbing food. The median life expectancy has improved from early childhood to the mid-30s today, but many individuals battle lung disease for years.

“We have been extremely impressed with Predix’s drug discovery and development track record,” stated Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the CF Foundation and CFFT.  “This agreement will enable us to work with a cutting-edge company to focus on promising research to model the CFTR protein and identify disease targets. We are confident that collaborating on these research programs will move us closer to finding an effective therapy to restore function to CF cells in patients with cystic fibrosis.”

The award funds two research programs. The first program is focused on the defective Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) protein.  A mutation in the CFTR gene is one of the key factors that ultimately leads to the symptoms, complications and premature mortality in people with CF. This defective channel has impaired transport of sodium and chloride in and out of the cells, leading to thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and the pancreas.  Predix will use its proprietary PREDICT™ technology to model the structure of this ion channel and use the information to identify sites in the channel for therapeutic intervention. Once thesesites are identified, Predix expects to use its computational drug discovery capabilities to discover a drug that restores proper functioning to the channel in patients with CF.

The second program will use Predix’s PREDICT™ technology, featuring its three-dimensional G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) modeling and optimization capability, to discover a small-molecule agonist to P2Y(2) to treat the disease.  P2Y(2) receptor agonists should help expel chloride from cells using a channel that bypasses the CFTR defect. Successful release of chloride would help restore the proper salt and water balance in the cells of people with CF. Predix will retain the right to develop and commercialize any compounds discovered through this second research program.

“Our technology has enabled us to advance two compounds from discovery into the clinic in less than two years,” commented Chen Schor, chief business officer of Predix Pharmaceuticals.  “We are excited about applying our drug discovery and optimization technology to the CFTR and P2Y(2) targets for the benefit of patients with cystic fibrosis.”  

Oren Becker, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer of Predix stated, “This agreement is a perfect fit for Predix strategically and enables us to use our proven technology and discovery capabilities to help people battling this critical life-threatening disease.  We look forward to working with CFFT on both the CFTR and P2Y(2) research programs.”

About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and CFFT

The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to assure the development of the means to cure and control cystic fibrosis (CF) and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.  Established in 2000, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, Inc. (CFFT) is the non-profit drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  CFFT supports and governs activities related to CF drug discovery through the many stages of drug development and clinical evaluation.  The CF Foundation provides support to fund CFFT's operations, specifically the Therapeutics Development Program.  For more information on CF, the CF Foundation, or CFFT, call (800) FIGHT CF or visit www.cff.org.

About Predix

Predix is a privately held, clinical stage drug development company that uses a proprietary discovery and lead optimization platform to focus on G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) and ion channel drug targets.  Over the past two years, the company has discovered several novel drug candidates, two of which are in human clinical trials.  Predix has completed three Phase I trials and initiated a Phase II trial with PRX-00023, a 5-HT1A receptor agonist for depression and anxiety, as well as initiated a Phase I trial with PRX-03140, a 5-HT4 agonist for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.  A third clinical candidate, a novel 5-HT2B antagonist for pulmonary hypertension and other hypoxia-associated diseases, is expected to enter the clinic in the first half of 2005.  Development also will continue on the company’s robust pre-clinical pipeline.  For more information on Predix, please visit www.predixpharm.com.  

 

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