11 April 2006
VASTox Initiates Fifth Proprietary Drug Discovery Programme in Cancer
Oxford, UK 11th April 2006 - VASTox plc (AIM: VOX), a leading chemical genomics
company, is pleased to announce that it has initiated a new drug discovery
programme focused on the Wnt signalling pathway for cancer. This is VASTox's
fifth drug discovery programme.
VASTox has selected this new programme to capitalise on its own in-house
expertise and will use its chemical genomics platform technology and fruitfly
larvae (Drosophila melanogaster) to screen its proprietary library of chemicals.
The Wnt (pronounced 'wint') pathway is widely recognised within the scientific
community to be a good cancer target because it is active in the developing
embryo when cells are required to constantly grow and differentiate. The pathway
is normally inactive in adults and only switched on again in cancers.
Based on its world-leading chemical genomics expertise, VASTox has developed a
screening model in fruitflies in which a crucial step in the regulation of the
Wnt pathway is impaired leading to uncontrolled cell growth.
In addition, because VASTox is using whole organisms to carry out its screening
activities, the Company will quickly gain valuable information on the safety and
efficacy of the compounds that affect the Wnt pathway. This approach has the
potential for saving significant time and cost in the development of new drug
candidates when compared to conventional drug discovery processes.
Following the successful secondary fundraising for the company's Duchenne
Muscular Dystrophy programme in March, VASTox is now focused on moving its lead
programme into the clinic by its target date of 2008. This funding has also
enabled the company to accelerate its other drug discovery programmes and
initiate others such as the Wnt programme earlier than planned. With three
proprietary in vivo screening programmes using zebrafish (for the Company's
osteoarthritis programme) and fruitflies (for the Spinal Muscular Atrophy and
Wnt programmes), the Company will look to announce progress in terms of hit
selection within the next six months.
Dr Steven Lee, CEO of VASTox, said: 'Our recent successful secondary fundraising
has provided us with the funds to drive forward our lead programme in Duchenne
Muscular Dystrophy according to the timelines we set out in March. As a result
of this much strengthened financial position, we are now in a position to add
additional high quality drug discovery programmes. Our expertise in chemical
genomics and fruitflies makes the Wnt signalling pathway an ideal discovery
target for VASTox. With this programme, we are again demonstrating our ability
to utilise exciting academic science as the starting point for a rigorous,
industrial drug discovery process. By using in vivo models at the first stage of
our Wnt drug discovery programme, we are confident that the hits we identify
will show low toxicity and quickly form the basis of lead candidates.'
For more information please contact:
Steven Lee, Chief Executive Officer 01235 443 910
07766 913 898
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
David Dible / Mark Swallow / Valerie Auffray 020 7638 9571
Notes for Editors:
About VASTox plc
VASTox is a chemical genomics technology company that discovers and develops
proprietary novel drugs and provides services to the pharmaceutical industry.
The company's most advanced drug development programme is focused on developing
a new treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy based on the up-regulation of
utrophin. A second drug development programme for Spinal Muscular Atrophy is
also progressing rapidly. VASTox has two additional programmes focused on
osteoarthritis and tuberculosis that are expected to be out-licensed prior to
entering the clinic.
The company's technology platform, which uses using zebrafish and fruitflies,
has the potential to dramatically decrease the time and cost of drug discovery
and development. This is because using whole organisms allows it to carry out
high volume, high content screening that delivers data which is highly
predictive of the efficacy and toxicity of potential drug compounds in humans.
VASTox is growing revenues based on marketing its unique technology platform and
its chemistry expertise.
VASTox was formed in January 2003 from the University of Oxford. The company
listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM in October 2004 and successfully raised
an additional £10 million via a secondary placing in March 2006.
About the Wnt signalling pathway
Signalling pathways are the subject of intense research and commercial activity
in the life sciences industry. The Wnt pathway refers to a sequence of
biological processes that are essential for the healthy development of embryos.
Once the embryo has developed the pathways become more specialised and carefully
The Wnt signalling pathway is remarkably well conserved between fruitflies and
humans and is essential in the development of the cell differentiation, organ
formation and cell growth. VASTox has developed model fruitflies that
demonstrate unregulated reactions of beta-catenin; a crucial step in the Wnt
pathway. Finding chemicals that regulate this reaction in the fruitfly will be
an important start in regulating this pathway in humans.
As a fundamental biological process, the malfunctioning of the Wnt pathway has
been implicated in a wide range of diseases and disorders. VASTox believes that
its Wnt programme will offer potential across a broad range of therapy areas,
but initially in unregulated cell growth such as cancer tumours.
This announcement contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking
statements can be identified by words such as 'anticipates', 'intends', 'plans',
'seeks', 'believes', 'estimates', 'expects' and similar references to future
periods, or by the inclusion of forecasts or projections.
Forward-looking statements are based on the Company's current expectations and
assumptions regarding its business, the economy and other future conditions.
Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, by their nature, they
are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that
are difficult to predict. The Company's actual results may differ materially
from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. The Company cautions
you therefore that you should not rely on any of these forward-looking
statements as statements of historical fact or as guarantees or assurances of
future performance. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ
materially from those in the forward-looking statements include factors included
in this announcement and regional, national, global political, economic,
business, competitive, market and regulatory conditions.
This information is provided by RNS
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