Pharmexa In-Licenses Formulation Technology from ZYCOS for the AutoVac HER-2 DNA Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine


HORSHOLM, Denmark, May 15, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- Pharmexa and ZYCOS today jointly announced that they have entered into an agreement to formulate Pharmexa's therapeutic DNA breast cancer vaccine in ZYCOS' GENCAP(TM) system.

Under the agreement, Pharmexa intends to use ZYCOS' proprietary GENCAP(TM) technology to deliver its AutoVac(TM) HER-2 DNA vaccine for a Phase II clinical study in breast cancer patients planned for 2003. Based on studies performed with GENCAP(TM) the parties expect that the required dose of DNA vaccine in humans can be lowered as compared to vaccination with naked DNA.

Pharmexa will pay ZYCOS for formulation, manufacturing and scale up cost, and milestones and royalties if the product is successful. The parties have agreed not to disclose further financial details of the agreement.

Soren Mouritsen, CEO of Pharmexa said: "Since we started the clinical program for the AutoVac(TM) HER-2 DNA project we have been testing a large number of DNA delivery approaches for the vaccine. We are currently using naked DNA vaccination but have decided to use ZYCOS' formulation technology for the Phase II trial since we expect it will have a beneficial effect on the activity of our vaccine. Effective delivery followed by a strong immune response will be important in targeting the HER-2 protein, found on so many deadly cancers."

Mark A. Philip, CEO of ZYCOS said: "We have developed GENCAP(TM) and other proprietary delivery systems for DNA and oligonucleotides to help us and our partners predictably and rapidly bring new drug candidates into the clinic. ZYCOS is currently developing multiple GENCAP(TM) formulated drugs with partners and has two of its own proprietary drugs in the clinic. We believe Pharmexa's AutoVac(TM) HER-2 DNA vaccine has great therapeutic and commercial promise and we look forward to working together."

The cancer protein targeted by Pharmexa's two breast cancer vaccines is a cancer growth factor called HER-2. HER-2 is present in many cancer forms, including breast, ovary, uterus, stomach, bladder, prostate, colon and lung cancers. In animal models Pharmexa's AutoVac(TM) HER-2 DNA vaccine induces the immune system to launch killer cells against the cancer and in addition also leads to the creation of antibodies against the HER-2 protein. The AutoVac(TM) HER-2 Protein vaccine currently in the late pre-clinical stage works through the creation of a very high level of antibodies. The protein vaccine is not covered by the agreement with ZYCOS.

GENCAP(TM) is a proprietary technology developed by ZYCOS to deliver nucleic acid based drugs in a safe and more effective manner. GENCAP(TM) encapsulates DNA and oligonucleotide drugs into micron sized particles, which can help promote cellular uptake of the drug.

The agreement will not significantly affect Pharmexa's financial results for 2002.

Note to editors:

Pharmexa A/S (CSE:PHARMX) is a leading company in the field of therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of serious chronic diseases. Pharmexa's proprietary AutoVac(TM) pharmaccine technology platform is broadly applicable, but the company has focused its resources on a number of cancer forms and chronic inflammatory diseases. Pharmexa's research and development programs are targeted towards breast cancer, asthma, bone degeneration, allergy and neurodegenerative diseases. The Pharmexa Group has entered into collaborative agreements with Lexigen/Merck KGaA, Ferring, Schering-Plough, H. Lundbeck, NeuroSearch, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. The Group has 153 employees. More information on Pharmexa can be found on

A privately held company located in Lexington, Massachusetts, ZYCOS Inc. is developing a new pipeline of therapeutic medicines targeting multi-billion dollar markets in the areas of cancer, viral infections and autoimmune disease. ZYCOS' technology platform includes proprietary vectors, drug targets and targeted drug delivery systems. ZYCOS' drug discovery capabilities include CANVA(TM) high throughput protein expression profiling workstations and the EPIQUEST(R) antigen discovery system, which provide ZYCOS a source of new drug targets. Both systems are based on advanced microchemistries and mass spectrometry. For rapid drug development, the company has developed BIOTOPE(R) gene expression vectors and GENCA(TM) biopolymer formulations for drug delivery. ZYCOS is using its technologies to build a broad pipeline of genome-derived products that are designed to enhance the body's natural response against specific diseases. ZYCOS has an anti-viral product designed to treat diseases associated with the human papilloma virus in Phase II clinical studies and an anti-cancer agent in Phase 1/IIa clinical studies.