A growth hormone antagonist enterprise has grown into a newlimited partnership, Sensus-I L.P.
This alliance between a state-sponsored consortium of Ohiouniversities and a drug development company, announcedFriday, is intended to support academic research andpotentially offer new treatments for conditions ranging fromgiantism to diabetes and cancer.
Sensus will be based in Austin, Texas. The commercial partneris Innovations in Drug Development, or id2, a recent NewJersey partnership. Id2 and its wholly owned affiliate, Sensus,will spend $2 million to sponsor research of the Ohio UniversityEdison Animal Biotechnology Center, which links researchersfrom Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University, OhioState University and the University of Cincinnati.
Sensus is the third commercial venture from the center, whichhas already spun off DNX Corp. (NASDAQ:DNXX) of Princeton,N.J., and the privately funded Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. ofTarrytown, N.Y.
Id2 will license growth hormone technologies from the EdisonCenter and will receive access to future discoveries over thenext eight years. Sensus will develop some of the work forpharmaceutical applications, and researchers at the center willreceive milestone and royalty payments.
Richard Hawkins, id2's co-founder and chairman, previouslyfounded Pharmaco LSR. He stepped down as president inJanuary. Sensus will likely be a client of this pharmaceuticalcontract research organization in which Hawkins is still ashareholder, said John Scarlett, id2's president and chiefexecutive officer. Pharmaco LSR is based in Austin.
Scarlett had been senior vice president of medical and scientificaffairs at Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he headedNovo Nordisk's North American clinical development center.
He said id2 is a pharmaceutical venture management companythat was attracted to the "very mature technology, veryoriented to a therapeutic goal" available through the EdisonCenter agreement.
Id2 plans to develop other late-stage compounds by usingcontract research organizations instead of hiring staff, Scarlettsaid. The venture management team obtained private financingfor its operations and may be starting a new trend in drugdevelopment, since the partners know other groupscontemplating similar contract-management approaches but noother such organizations that are already established.
The growth hormone antagonists subject to the licenseagreement were created after Ohio University professor JohnKopchick created a "minimouse" in 1990 by introducing amutated bovine growth hormone that surprisingly suppressedgrowth. Further rational drug design work at the Edison Centerled to compounds that may be useful in controlling diseasescaused by unchecked cell proliferation.
Sensus will initially focus on acromegaly, which results inexcessive growth of the head, face, hands, feet and chest, andmay cause premature death by stressing the cardiovascularsystem. Professional wrestler Andre the Giant recently diedfrom complications of the disease, which affects about 10,000Americans and is primarily caused by pituitary tumors.
Other indications that Sensus will investigate include cancerand the diabetes complications retinopathy -- sight-threateninggrowth of capillaries in the retina -- and nephropathy -- anaccelerated growth of kidney cells that can lead to kidneyfailure.030893ID2
-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.