Sigma-1 receptor Implicated in Cell Survival of Rare Neurodegenerative Diseases - Expanding the Opportunity for Application of ANAVEX PLUS in Rare Diseases

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| Source: Anavex Life Sciences Corp.

NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Anavex Life Sciences Corp. ("Anavex" or the "Company") (OTCQB:AVXL) today announced that a publication in the current issue of scientific journal Neuropathology potentially extends the opportunity for ANAVEX PLUS to additional neurodegenerative diseases beyond Alzheimer's.

The report demonstrates for the first time, evidenced by human brain autopsies, that the sigma-1 receptor (Sig-1R) is also involved in a family of neurodegenerative genetic disorders including Huntington's disease (HD), dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA), and spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 2 and 3 (SCA1, SCA2, SCA3). They are caused by abnormal expansion of a polyglutamine stretch in each of the unrelated causative proteins. Sig-1R was consistently expressed and co-localized with neuronal nuclear inclusions in these polyglutamine diseases, confirming the implication of Sig-1R in cell survival in these neurodegenerative diseases.

Accumulation of misfolded proteins in brain cells is a common feature of most neurodegenerative diseases. Misfolded proteins may cause cell stress or cell dysfunction, leading to neuronal cell death. Sig-1R has previously been shown to facilitate the proper folding of newly synthesized proteins. It also prevents accumulation of misfolded proteins by consigning them to degradation, which is why the cell is able to survive. These actions confirm that increasing Sig-1R expression might play a key role in cellular survival in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.  

According to the newly published report, neurodegenerative diseases characterized by neuronal nuclear inclusions apparently also utilize the Sig-1R-related degradation machinery as a pathway for the degradation of aberrant proteins. This indicates that Sig-1R expands its cellular protective reach and is even able to shuttle between the nucleus and the cytoplasm in order to prevent cell degeneration.

"We are encouraged by these recent findings that the sigma-1 receptor might promote critically needed cellular survival in additional neurodegenerative diseases beyond Alzheimer's. This potentially expands the scope of indications for our drug candidate ANAVEX PLUS, which increases the expression of the sigma-1 receptor to help cells regain functionality and survive," said Christopher U. Missling, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anavex.

The report, entitled "Accumulation of the sigma-1 receptor is common to neuronal nuclear inclusions in various neurodegenerative diseases," was authored by Dr. Yasuo Miki, Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Brain Science, Hirosaki, Japan, and industry colleagues.

About Anavex Life Sciences Corp.

Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (www.anavex.com) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the development of novel drug candidates to treat Alzheimer's, CNS diseases and various types of cancer. ANAVEX 2-73, an orally available drug candidate developed to treat Alzheimer's through potential disease modification, has undergone an initial Phase 1 human clinical trial and was well tolerated in doses up to 55mg. Results from pre-clinical studies indicate that ANAVEX 2-73 demonstrates anti-amnesic and neuroprotective properties. A highly encouraging synergistic effect has also been observed between ANAVEX 2-73 and Aricept® (donepezil). The combined therapeutics ANAVEX PLUS produced up to 80% greater reversal of memory loss in Alzheimer's disease models versus when the drugs were used individually. Anavex is a publicly traded corporation quoted as AVXL.

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Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature are forward-looking statements. These statements are only predictions based on current information and expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in any of such statements due to various factors, including the risks set forth in the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement and Anavex Life Sciences Corp. undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.

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