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ImQuest Receives $6.4 M Five Year Award from NIH to Develop Long-Lasting Combination Topical Microbicides To Prevent HIV Transmission

FREDERICK, Md., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- ImQuest BioSciences announced today the successful acquisition of funding from the National Institutes of Health to support the development of a long lasting, safe, and acceptable combination topical microbicide product. ImQuest and a consortium of microbicide researchers from four major U.S.-based universities will develop a highly innovative product from the portfolio of microbicides being developed by ImQuest, including the highly active dual-acting pyrimidinediones, the virus attachment and fusion inhibitor ISIS 5320, and the virus-inactivating NCp7-targeted thioesters. The $6.4 million award for studies to be performed in the Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Topical microbicides (IPCP-HTM), which is co-sponsored by the NIAID and DMID, will be led by Principal Investigator Robert W. Buckheit, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of ImQuest. Other participating investigators include Dr. Patrick Kiser of The University of Utah, Dr. David Katz of Duke University, Dr. Kathleen Morrow of The Miriam Hospital/Brown University, and Drs. Lisa Rohan and Charlene Dezzutti of The University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Todd Parsley and Ms. Karen Watson of ImQuest will also play key roles in the performance of the program.

"This award forms the foundation of our efforts to develop a topical microbicide to reduce the incidence of sexual transmission of HIV, especially in the developing world where women now account for over 50% of people living with HIV and are in dire need of an effective microbicide product," said Dr. Buckheit. "It is our goal to develop a multi-product barrier for women that will inhibit several steps in the process of HIV infection, suppress the transmission of both wild type and resistant viruses, and which will only need to be applied once per week, or even once per month."

The IPCP-HTM project will focus on the development of ImQuest's portfolio of microbicide products and the proposed combination microbicide will provide a three layer barrier to HIV infection. Initially, the product will inactivate HIV and HIV-infected cells in the semen upon introduction to the vagina. Secondly, two separate products in the combination will prevent the initial attachment and subsequent entry of virus into the vaginal target cells, preventing infection. Finally, the third and most potent activity of the product will prevent the critical action of the virus-encoded reverse transcriptase inside the cell. Key features of the development program include the formulation of the product for delivery as gels or intravaginal rings, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluations to demonstrate the feasibility of the formulated product for use, acceptability studies to assure that the final product will be used by the women it is intended to protect, and the IND-directed preclinical and clinical activities required to initiate FDA-approved human clinical trials for the unique final product.

ImQuest CEO, Joseph McGuirl states, "We are highly honored that the NIH has seen fit to fund this important microbicide development program and we look forward to working closely with our team of academic collaborators and the NIH to successfully achieve our goals."

ImQuest Life Sciences, a privately held U.S. company located in Frederick, Maryland specializes in early stage drug development of novel compounds for the treatment of infectious disease and cancer. ImQuest BioSciences, also located in Frederick, Maryland, is a leading provider of anti-infective therapeutic and microbicide development services to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

For further information regarding this press release please contact:

Robert W. Buckheit, Jr., Ph.D.

Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

ImQuest Life Sciences, Inc.


SOURCE ImQuest BioSciences
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