21 July 2005
For immediate release 21 July 2005
('VASTox' or 'the Company')
Initiation of a new proprietary programme
Oxford, UK: 21 July 2005 - VASTox plc (AIM: VOX), the drug discovery and
services business, is pleased to announce today that it has initiated a new drug
discovery programme focused on the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a
genetic neuromuscular disease. This is VASTox's third proprietary programme
alongside Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Tuberculosis.
SMA affects 50,000 people worldwide and is a degenerative disease causing loss
of motor neurons in the spinal cord resulting in muscle atrophy. There are
various forms of the disease with onset from infancy to adulthood. SMA is the
most severe genetic disease in children under the age of two and there is
currently no cure or adequate treatment for the condition.
VASTox has unique and unparalleled expertise in this disease area through its
scientific founders and scientific advisory board. Professor Kay Davies CBE,
FRS, and Dr Marcel van den Heuvel are both leading authorities on neuromuscular
diseases working out of the Medical Research Council Functional Genetics Unit,
University of Oxford.
Professor Kay Davies is a scientific founder of VASTox, and Dr van den Heuvel
joined the company's scientific advisory board in March 2005. Dr van den Heuvel
is recognised as an expert on SMA having dedicated his research to the area for
the last four years.
Utilising its in-house synergy between chemistry and biology the company is
developing a chemical genomic screen using Drosophila flies based on Dr van den
Heuvel's research. This screen will be used to identify promising compounds
from VASTox's proprietary neuromuscular chemical library and advance these into
novel drugs to treat SMA.
Dr Steven Lee, CEO of VASTox, said:
'Initiation of this programme marks an exciting milestone for VASTox because the
scientific rationale predominantly comes not from one of the original founding
scientists but from a scientific advisor who was recruited post-IPO. VASTox is
building on our expertise in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, confirming our
commitment to finding cures for neuromuscular diseases. By leveraging our
genomics platform, our world-leading academic advisors, and our chemistry
skills, we have an opportunity to make significant progress in treating this
disease - for the benefit of patients.'
For more information please contact:
Steven Lee, Chief Executive Officer 01235 443 901
07766 913 898
Mark Court / Mary-Jane Johnson 020 7466 5000
Notes for Editors:
About VASTox plc
VASTox is a chemical genomics technology company that provides services to the
pharmaceutical industry and discovers and develops proprietary novel drugs. The
company's technology platform aims to use high volume, high content screening
using zebrafish and fruitflies to provide a high level of predictability of the
efficacy and toxicity of potential drug compounds in humans which has the
potential to dramatically decrease the time and cost of drug discovery and
development. VASTox was formed in January 2003, from the University of Oxford,
by some of the UK's foremost scientists who have taken a highly creative
approach to the problems involved in drug discovery and who have a proven record
in delivering technological excellence. The company listed on the London Stock
Exchange AIM in October 2004.
About Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects 50,000 people worldwide and is a degenerative
disease causing loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord resulting in muscle
atrophy. Patients progressively lose the ability to walk, sit and, eventually,
move. The most severe form, known as type I, reduces life expectancy to less
than two years. SMA is a genetic disease caused by a defect in a single gene
(SMN1). SMN protein is critical to the survival and health of motor neurons.
Without this protein, nerve cells atrophy, shrink and eventually die, resulting
in the observed muscle weakness.
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange