By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

In a research agreement with CytoGenix Inc., Omnimmune Corp., a private company founded in 1994, will use its antibodies to carry CytoGenix¿s DNA strands for the treatment of cancer.

Omnimmune, with offices in both Houston and Pittsburgh, has developed its own proprietary monoclonal antibody technology and has obtained exclusive worldwide rights to other technology and monoclonal antibodies developed at other medical institutions. These monoclonal antibodies are being developed to treat and detect cancer, Harris Lichtenstein, Omnimmune¿s chairman and CEO, told BioWorld Today.

Lichtenstein said Omnimmune¿s antibodies may be used alone as a means of killing cancer cells or to deliver agents to destroy cancer cells, and in the case of CytoGenix, ¿we are going to use our antibodies as a carrier for their particular drug.¿

Omnimmune¿s monoclonal antibodies will be used to deliver CytoGenix¿s therapeutic products specifically targeting cancer cells, whereas Omnimmune is independently developing and commercializing monoclonal antibodies for the treatment, diagnosis, prognosis, management and prevention of cancer.

CytoGenix, a Houston-based genomics company, develops single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) expression systems. Its platform technology is an intracellular expression system that produces unmodified strands of ssDNA designed specifically for therapeutic interventions related to antisense, triplex, DNA vaccine, aptamer and catalytic DNA applications.

Dell Gibson, CytoGenix¿s executive vice president, said under the agreement each company will be responsible for part of the research. ¿As we progress through it, we will determine the end effect and divvy up any intellectual property that grows out of it according to the work that is put into it,¿ he told BioWorld Today.

CytoGenix and Omnimmune expect that the combination of their technologies will resolve problems being faced by others. ¿Like everybody else, we have the same challenge of getting our plasmid from the laboratory into the body and not only into the body, but into the specific cells that we are targeting,¿ Gibson said.

He said the companies will know pretty quickly whether their technologies will work together, ¿and before we begin working we¿ll need to do some basic tweaking to connect them to make sure they function together.¿

The companies have not placed a time limit on the agreement, but Gibson said to prove the concept of combining the technologies should not take longer than a few months.

¿The CytoGenix ssDNA technology has the potential to express any of hundreds of antisense sequences already discovered and under investigation,¿ Malcolm Skolnick, CytoGenix¿s CEO, said in a prepared statement. ¿This expression takes place in the cell and therefore will reduce the production of various harmful proteins with greater efficiency than does the standard approach of attempting to flood the intercellular space with antisense sequences in the hope that a sufficient number will be taken up by target cells.¿

In a prepared statement, Alexander Krichevsky, Omnimmune¿s senior vice president of research and development, said, ¿Omnimmune¿s proprietary monoclonal antibodies are ideal candidates as delivery systems for a wide variety of cancer therapeutic agents because these monoclonals can distinguish cancer cells from normal ones.¿

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