MMRF PRESS RELEASES
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Grants $1.0 Million to Aileron Therapeutics and Astex Therapeutics to Advance New Therapies for Multiple Myeloma
Innovative Grants Program Bridges Funding Gap for Biotech Companies
Norwalk, CT — March 2, 2009
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) today announced that it has awarded $500,000 in grant funding to both Aileron Therapeutics and Astex Therapeutics through its 2008 MMRF Biotech Investment Awards. The MMRF Biotech Investment Awards represent a multi-year research grant commitment to fund the early-stage drug development of novel compounds and approaches that show potential in treating multiple myeloma. Based on the companies' achievement of clearly defined milestones, the MMRF will commit an additional $500,000 to each company in 2010.
According to a recent MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, investments in biotech's life sciences sector declined 15 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. "Funding for early-stage drug development is limited, especially for rare diseases like multiple myeloma, and continues to decline in today's economy. We have maintained our commitment to MMRF Biotech Investment Awards in 2008 at the same level as 2007 because they help rapidly advance important research and early drug development that may not have otherwise been possible," said Louise M. Perkins, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of the MMRF.
The 2008 MMRF Biotech Investment Awards will support the early development of two novel approaches: Aileron Therapeutics' Stapled Peptide, borrows from nature a small piece of a protein that restores programmed cell death in multiple myeloma cells; and Astex Therapeutics' proprietary cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor, a type of drug that blocks the uncontrolled proliferation of multiple myeloma cells.
"The MMRF BIA grant bridges a critical funding gap that will support the clinical development in myeloma of our promising novel compound AT7519, our proprietary CDK inhibitor" said Harren Jhoti, Ph.D., CEO of Astex Therapeutics and a recipient of the MMRF Biotech Investment Award.
The MMRF Biotech Investment Awards program has already seen impressive results. Semafore, one of the first grantees of the Biotech Investment Awards, was awarded funding to support the early development of its targeted PI3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, SF1126, in multiple myeloma. This promising compound is now being studied in a clinical trial through the MMRF's sister organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC).
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the plasma cell. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 35%, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2008, an estimated 19,920 adults (11,190 men and 8,730 women) in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma and an estimated 10,690 people died from the disease.
About Aileron Therapeutics
Aileron Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developing a breakthrough class of drugs called Stapled Peptides. This new class of drugs represents the first general solution for modulating intracellular protein-protein interactions, which have been identified as critical control points for most human diseases. Aileron's new therapeutic modality creates a unique opportunity to exploit potentially thousands of currently "undruggable" targets with applications in all human diseases. For further information on Aileron, please visit the company's website: www.aileronrx.com.
About Astex Therapeutics
Astex Therapeutics is a UK-based biotechnology company that discovers and develops novel small molecule therapeutics. Using its pioneering fragment-based drug discovery platform Pyramid™, Astex has built a pipeline of five molecularly-targeted oncology drugs, of which three are currently being tested in clinical trials and two are in pre- clinical development. In addition to its proprietary research programs, Astex's productivity in lead discovery has been endorsed through numerous partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Bayer-Schering, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis and Johnson and Johnson. For further information on Astex, please visit the company's website: www.astex-therapeutics.com.
About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised over $110 million since its inception to fund nearly 100 laboratories worldwide. An outstanding 93% of funds raised go toward research and related programming. The MMRF has supported 40 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre- clinical studies and has facilitated 17 clinical trials through its sister organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.www.themmrf.org.