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Release issued 14th May 2002
Cambridge, UK, 14 May 2002 - CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc (LSE:CEN) today noted recent press coverage on the identification of a risk gene for schizophrenia that has implications for its pre-clinical candidate rhGGF2, which is a recombinant version of the protein coded by that gene.
An international team of researchers led by Hans Moises at the University of Kiel, Germany, announced on March 27 that genetic markers on both sides of the neuregulin-1 gene on the short arm of chromosome 8 revealed a highly significant association with schizophrenia. The protein products of this gene are growth factors involved in the normal growth of the brain, which seems to be disrupted in humans with schizophrenia. The study suggests that there is a neuregulin deficiency in schizophrenia, which could be treated with products of the neuregulin-1 gene such as GGF2.
Dr Irving Gottesman of the University of Minnesota, a leading expert in schizophrenia and part of the international team, commented:
"The neuregulin finding shows the postulated connection between the 2 major theories of schizophrenia, the genetic and the neurodevelopmental hypotheses"
rhGGF2, a recombinant version of GGF2, is currently in late stage pre-clinical trials for multiple sclerosis. Cambridge Neuroscience, which was acquired by CeNeS in December 2000, and Bayer originally developed the growth factor.
CeNeS would like to clarify its ownership position and make it clear that CeNeS alone now owns the rights and all intellectual property related to the compound. CeNeS is currently reviewing partnering opportunities to exploit the full therapeutic potential of this candidate.
Neil Clark, Chief Operating Officer and Financial Director of CeNeS, commented:
"CeNeS is keeping abreast of the interesting developments being made in the involvement of the neuregulin-1 gene in schizophrenia. We are discussing the future development of our neuregulin-1 related intellectual property in the potential treatment of CNS disorders with interested parties."
CeNeS is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in the development and commercialisation of drugs for CNS disorders and pain control. The company currently markets four products, and has research and development assets targeting pain, schizophrenia, addiction, sleep disorders and multiple sclerosis. In addition it has a range of platform technologies including AutoPatch(tm) its unique automated patch clamping technology. The group is based in Cambridge, England.
For more information please contact: CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc:
Alan Goodman, Neil Clark: Tel: +44 (0)1223 266466 Fax: +44 (0)1223 266467
Noonan Russo Presence EURO RSCG: Veronica Sellar, Dr Douglas Pretsell Tel: +44 (0)20 7726 4452 Fax: +44 (0)20 7726 4453
Notes for editors:
Growth factors Growth factors are proteins that bind to receptors on the cell surface, with the primary result of activating cellular proliferation and/or differentiation. Many growth factors are quite versatile, stimulating cellular division in numerous different cell types; while others are specific to a particular cell-type.
Neuregulin-1/ Glial Growth Factor 2 (GGF2) Neuregulin-1 is a gene, the products of which include Glial Growth Factor 2 (GGF2). GGF2 is known to stimulate the growth and differentiation of glial cells, the support cells of the nervous system. These glial cells form the myelin sheath that insulates nerve cells and is essential for their survival and proper functioning. In demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath is damaged or lost, leading to the degeneration of nerve cells. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that GGF2 can stimulate the cell growth necessary to protect and regenerate damaged myelin sheath. GGF2 has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of brain cancers, synaptic plasticity which is important for memory, and of motor neurons.
Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder affecting about 1-1.5% of the population. The disorder is characterised by a constellation of symptoms that can be grouped as either positive (thought disorder; hallucination; delusion and paranoia) or negative (social withdrawal; absence of emotion and expression; catatonia; reduced energy; motivation and activity). Although anti-psychotic drugs have an effect on a substantial proportion of schizophrenics they are ineffective in at least 15% of patients. No absolute cause has been established for the disorder although abnormalities in the development of the frontal lobes, prefrontal lobes, and amygdala have been observed as well as abnormal functioning of the systems in the brain that use the neurotransmitter dopamine. A number of studies have identified genetic links that imply that a schizophrenia-gene could some day be identified.
This disorder is found throughout the world and in all races and cultures. Schizophrenia affects men and women in equal numbers, although on average, men appear to develop schizophrenia earlier than women. Generally, men show the first signs of schizophrenia in their mid 20s and women show the first signs in their late 20s. Schizophrenia costs the US an estimated $32.5 billion per year (statistic from Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, 1997).
Neuregulin-1/ Glial Growth Factor 2 (GGF2) and Schizophrenia Hans Moises and his team have shown a linkage between two genetic markers and schizophrenia. These markers are on both sides of the neuregulin-1 gene on the short arm of chromosome 8. This strongly implies that the neuregulin-1 gene is a susceptibility gene for schizophrenia. Most likely, an impaired function of this gene may cause some of the developmental problems seen in schizophrenia. This gene codes for the growth factor GGF2 implying that a treatment with GGF2 may have therapeutic benefit.
GGF2 is a growth factor involved in the growth of glial cells, brain cancers, synaptic plasticity which is important for memory, and of motor neurons. All these areas have been found in many studies to be implicated in schizophrenia.
If you want to find out more about the company visit CeNeS Pharmaceuticals profile.
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