Triplex Pharmaceutical Corp. announced today that it hasformalized its ongoing collaboration with M.D. Anderson CancerCenter researcher and clinician Alfred Yung on developingsynthetic oligonucleotides for treating brain tumors.

Yung, deputy chairman of M.D. Anderson's department ofneuro-oncology, has been collaborating with Triplex foundingscientist Michael Hogan for about nine months on preliminaryexperiments investigating the ability of Triplex's oligos tointerfere with the expression of epidermal growth factorreceptors. These oligonucleotides are directed against DNAduplexes and are intended to block the transcription of thegene into message. Overexpression of EFGR has been linked tohyperproliferative diseases, including several types of braintumors.

"The data were so positive that we formalized thecollaboration," explained James Chubb, president and chiefexecutive officer of privately held Triplex of The Woodlands,Texas.

"Yung has previously demonstrated that Triplex compoundsdirected to the EGFR gene can suppress the expression of thegene, suppress transcription of messenger RNA, reduce thenumber of EGFR receptors in tumor-cell culture and inhibit thegrowth of tumor cells in culture," Chubb said.

The researchers will now turn their attention to evaluating theeffectiveness of EGFR-directed oligonucleotides in preventingbrain tumor formation in animal models. Nude mice areengrafted with glioblastomas; "the xenografts are administeredsubcutaneously so the tumor forms on the backside of theanimal," Chubb said. The scientists will be looking at the abilityof the oligonucleotide compounds to inhibit tumor formation aswell as to reduce the size of tumors, he added.

"Assuming these experiments go well," he said, "Triplex will filean investigation new drug (IND) application and begin treatingindividuals. There's no real therapy available for this type ofbrain tumor."

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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