VIENNA, Austria, February 25, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- With immediate effect AFFiRiS AG is starting a development program for vaccination against hypertension. For this project the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) is providing development funds of up to EUR 1.2 million. With today's announcement four of the current seven vaccine projects of AFFiRiS AG are in the public domain. As with the other vaccines under development - to treat Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and atherosclerosis - the new vaccine will be based on the company's own AFFITOME(R) technology. However, for the first time it is now being used against a human hormone. The reason for this announcement is the gratifying approval of significant development funds by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, FFG.
Today, Viennese biotech company AFFiRiS AG announced the start of a new program to develop a vaccine against hypertension. This means that there are now four of the company's current seven development projects in the public domain. The specific reason for the "outing" of project no. 4 was the approval of public research promotion funds by the FFG. The vaccine is targeting angiotensin II, a peptide hormone that can cause narrowing of the blood vessels and thereby hypertension.
Dr. Walter Schmidt, CEO of AFFiRiS AG comments on the company's development pipeline: "With projects in seven different indications at the moment, AFFiRiS AG has achieved a broad diversification of potential development risks. While building up this pipeline we were consequently guided by our strategic focus, which is targeting disease areas with very large numbers of patients and lack of optimal therapies. We believe that systematic risk distribution, together with a focus on indications with a high market potential is the key for substantial success of a biotechnology company. The early VC investment by MIG Fonds AG, Munich, was of substancial importance for the establishment of our strong development pipeline. Our first licensing agreement on our Alzheimer's vaccination approach valued at up to EUR 430 million, shows that the pharmaceutical industry does already believe in our technology."
So far AFFiRiS AG had announced the development of two vaccines for Alzheimer's disease as well as one each for Parkinson's disease and atherosclerosis. These diseases affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The development of a vaccine for the treatment of hypertension is now of similar importance as hypertension is one of the major causes of diseases of the cardiovascular system and thus one of the most frequent causes of disease-induced deaths worldwide.
AFFiRiS AG is once again able to take advantage of its unique AFFITOME(R) platform technology which allows the generation of vaccines targeting autologous structures such as proteins and peptides. With Angiotensin II AFFiRiS AG is addressing a human hormone for the first time. This peptide hormone brings about vasoconstriction thereby increasing the blood pressure and is therefore presenting a promising target structure for intervention in chronic hypertension.
With regard to this therapy approach CSO Dr. Frank Mattner states: "Although chronic hypertension can be treated with drugs, the patient has to be precisely attuned to them and must then take medication constantly which often doesn't work out. Our vaccine is intended to lower the burden of strictly following this medication dictate, thereby contributing to ensuring lasting success. Taking into account the long term aspect of how hypertension leads to the often fatal sequelae such as heart diseases, stroke and kidney problems in the long term, sustainability is key for treatment's success".
The idea of intervening in the body hormone regulation of blood pressure by means of a vaccine arose in recent years. Dr Schmidt explains: "In order to develop a vaccine that can reduce hypertension, it must be able to trigger a highly specific immune response. The blood pressuring- increasing angiotensin II and the blood pressure-reducing angiotensin 1-7 differ by only one amino acid, while the remainder of the structure is identical. Our AFFITOME(R) technology allows us to adjust the immune response such that only angiotensin II is addressed. There was a similarly tricky problem in our first project, the Alzheimer's vaccine which we also solved successfully."
About AFFiRiS AG (date February 2010):
On the basis of the company's own patents, AFFiRiS develops tailor-made peptide vaccines against Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease and four other conditions with an urgent medical requirement and attractive market volumes. Alzheimer's is the current guideline indication, and here two potential products have just completed the phase I clinical studies. In October 2008 GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals became the licence partner for the Alzheimer's vaccine. The contract envisages ( milestone-dependent) payments of up to EUR 430 million. A payment of EUR 10 million was triggered in October by the positive completion of two clinical phase I studies. At present AFFiRiS has 60 highly qualified employees working at the St. Marx campus in Vienna, Austria (http://www.affiris.com).
Contact AFFiRiS AG: Mag. Agnes Meyer Karl-Farkas-Gasse 22 1030 Vienna Austria T +43-1-798-15-75-390 E firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Editing & Distribution: PR&D - Public Relations fur Forschung & Bildung Campus Vienna Biocenter 2 1030 Vienna Austria T +43-1-505-70-44 E email@example.com W http://www.prd.at
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