By Jennifer Van Brunt
Prizm Pharmaceuticals Inc. has licensed the rights to technologies developed by itsfounding scientists for making and using fibroblast growth factor conjugates astherapeutics and diagnostics, the San Diego company announced Monday.
Prizm has obtained an exclusive sublicense for the technologies, which are covered infive different patent applications, from the Milanese company Farmitalia Carlo Erba S.r.L.Farmitalia funded the research conducted by Andrew Baird, Prizm's founder and acting vicepresident of research, and his colleagues at the Salk Institute in LaJolla, Calif., andlater at The Whittier Institute for Diabetes and Endocrinology (a non-profit researchorganization where Baird heads the department of molecular and cellular growth biology).
Prizm's exclusive worldwide sublicense from Farmitalia is for all commercial rights tothe technologies, including sublicensing rights. It will pay Farmitalia an up-frontpayment, milestone payments tied to the development of Prizm's first oncology and firstcardiovascular product, and royalty payments on sales of those products. The companies didnot disclose other terms of the agreement.
Four of the five patents covering the technology were filed in the U.S. One patentcovers the composition of matter of conjugates of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) such asPrizm's FGF-saporin conjugate (a patent for which issued in the U.S. in March), another isrelated to the recombinant expression of these, and three deal with applications of thetechnology, in ophthalmology, cardiology and oncology.
The Salk Institute owns three of these patents, which it licensed to Farmitalia. TheWhittier Institute holds one, and Farmitalia owns the use patent (which it filed in theUnited Kingdom) for FGF conjugates in ophthalmology.
Prizm's lead products in development are a preventive for re-clogging of arteriesfollowing angioplasty and a diagnostic for malignant melanoma. Both are based on naturalregulatory mechanisms for FGF, whose receptors are only expressed on activated or injuredcells. The company is targeting these receptors with FGF conjugated to the toxic plantprotein saporin. Saporin kills the targeted cells by prohibiting protein synthesis throughalteration of ribosomal RNA.
Prizm acquired an exclusive license for a proprietary melanoma diagnostic technologyfrom the Whittier Institute in February.
It covers the isolation, characterization and use of a unique antibody against tumorcell FGF receptors and the conjugation of the antibody to saporin.
The privately held San Diego company raised $6 million in venture financing in April,the first funding since it was founded in 1992 with $500,000 in seed capital from DomainAssociates and Biotechnology Investments, Ltd.