TORONTO - Syn X Pharma, is widening its product focus from stroke diagnostics into cardiac therapeutics. The company has an ongoing agreement with the University of Liege, Belgium, to fund basic research on myostatin and to receive the exclusive rights to commercialize potential applications of that research.

U.S. patent No. 6,103,466, issued to the University of Liege, covers a method for determining the presence of muscular hyperplasia in a mammal. This is the first in a series of patents filed by, and now pending, to the university to secure intellectual property rights to discoveries regarding both the gene and protein myostatin, which has been identified as an inhibitor that limits striated (skeletal and heart) muscle growth.

According to George Jackowski, president and chief scientific officer of Syn X, the first issued patent allows Syn X to develop genetic diagnostic tests to verify and measure the presence of gene mutations that cause muscular hyperplasia (increased muscle growth) in mammals, including humans. Subsequent patents will allow Syn X to develop transgenic animals that possess specific myostatin mutations, then to create therapeutic medicines that encourage both cardiac and skeletal muscle growth.

Previous research has demonstrated that switching off the myostatin gene in mice and other mammals results in the development of animals with muscular hyperplasia, sometimes referred to as "double muscling." In addition, it is known that in animals that have experienced a myocardial infarction, there is very high concentration of myostatin in the dead and damaged heart cells, while the unaffected, healthy cells show low concentration of the protein.

"To date, most research on myostatin has focused on animal health applications that could lead to cattle or poultry with more meat. Our intent is to carry this research to conclusions that benefit human health, both in reversing the loss of muscle mass associated with aging, and in remodeling and rebuilding heart muscle damaged by myocardial infarction. There is a desperate need for new medicines to help people recover cardiac function after a heart attack, and to prevent the development of deadly conditions such as congestive heart failure," Jackowski added.

Syn X has been capitalizing on its antibody-based expertise to create and develop innovative diagnostic and risk assessment tests for applications in preventative medicine and patient management. The company also is a leader in the development of risk assessment tests for Syndrome X-related diseases, a cluster of conditions that begins with insulin resistance or high blood pressure, which increases an individual's chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Syn X has already developed a Strokepanel test to diagnose stroke, licensed last year by Genzyme Corp. for worldwide manufacture and distribution. It also is working with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corp. to speed up the development of its point-of-care diagnostic for congestive heart failure. Syn X will work closely with Adolfo J. de Bold, director of the cardiovascular endocrinology laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and discoverer of the polypeptide hormones atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) - markers for congestive heart failure. The markers are key to the development of a hand-held diagnostic test to identify heart failure.

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