News Releases News Releases HOME HOME

March 1, 2001

EpiGenesis Signs Development And Licensing Agreement With Taisho

Cranbury, New Jersey, February 14, 2001 - EpiGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., today announced a development and licensing agreement with Taisho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., of Tokyo, for access to the company's respiratory discovery and development platform, including EPI-2010, for asthma. The collaboration with Taisho includes payments for license fees equity investment and development expenses in North America and other markets. EPI-2010 is a respirable antisense oligonucleotide (RASON) which is in Phase I clinical trials in the US and has just begun trials in the UK. Researchers were encouraged by pre-clinical trials showing the compound is effective for nearly seven days, and broken down within the lung, causing no systemic toxicity.

EpiGenesis has pioneered the inhaled form of antisense oligonucleotides, which work by preventing the production of disease-related protein receptors.

The announcement marks the culmination of an agreement for which a LOI was signed in 2000.

"EPI-2010 targets the adenosine A1 receptor, which is unique among mediators of asthma in that it is produced in excess in virtually all asthma patients," explains Jonathan Nyce, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of EpiGenesis, and a pioneer in the study of inhaled oligonucleotides "This one receptor is associated with three key aspects of asthma - inflammation, bronchoconstriction and surfactant depletion. Further studies will show whether this single, novel therapeutic can address all three deleterious aspects of human asthma. That would be a major step forward in the fight against asthma - a disease of global significance - affecting more than 100 million people worldwide," added Dr. Nyce.

The Taisho agreement encompasses exclusive development and licensing for the Asian market for EPI-2010, a co-exclusive license for developing and profit sharing for North America and other markets; screening of EpiGenesis' proprietary multi-target RASON library for additional clinical candidates targeting respiratory disease, and an equity investment and license fee. EpiGenesis and Taisho intend to make the North American rights available for the licensing of EPI-2010.

"EpiGenesis' unique approach to delivering the medication directly to the target tissue and disabling the messenger RNA before the target becomes more difficult to deactivate as a receptor, may offer a number of significant advantages," said Akira Ohira, executive vice president of Taisho. "EpiGenesis' work in this area represents a strategic complement for our expertise in nonprescription medications and a worthy addition to the collaborations Taisho is undertaking with other leading genomics companies in America," added Mr. Ohira.

About the Companies


EpiGenesis is focused on the burgeoning science of epigenomics - applying the study of the abnormal expression of genes to the discovery and commercialization of innovative and effective drug therapeutics for respiratory diseases including asthma, lung cancer, COPD and allergic rhinitis. EpiGenesis' unique blend of core competencies are based on RASON technology - used in target validation as well as for RASON and small molecule therapeutics to treat respiratory disease; and improved laboratory models that provide a more effective method for developing and evaluating respiratory therapeutics.

EpiGenesis' discovery efforts are focused on developing more effective, efficient treatments for respiratory disease, with fewer side effects than currently available therapies.

EpiGenesis' top management team is comprised of internationally renowned researchers, successful business executives, intellectual property experts, regulatory specialists and seasoned marketers from some of the country's leading pharmaceutical, biotech and diagnostics companies.


Taisho, headquartered in Tokyo, is the leading pharmaceutical company in nonprescription healthcare products in Japan. It continues to increase its sales and research, internally and through collaborations, in the prescription drug area. Taisho reported approximately 270 billion yen in the current year's sales (April 1999-March 2000). Taisho is focused on contributing to the maintenance and improvement of consumers' health by creating and providing quality drugs, related health care products and information services. In addition to the agreement with EpiGenesis, Taisho has initiated collaborations with other genomics companies including Millennium Pharmaceuticals.