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Phylonix granted broad European patent for transplanting human cells into zebrafish

Cambridge, MA -- December 18, 2007 -- Phylonix Pharmaceuticals today announced that it recently received a broadly issued European patent EP 1 135 531 B1: Methods for Introducing Heterologous Cells into Fish. The patent, which has issued in key European countries, encompasses 68 claims, including transplanting stem cells, cancer cells and pathogens. In addition, neurons, chondrocytes, renal and hepatic cells can be transplanted in zebrafish and effects of growth factors or cytotoxic agents can be assessed. Claims also cover recovering cells for potential tissue engineering or transplantation applications. Many of these claims have issued previously in the United States and other countries.

This award complements our previously issued patents for assessing angiogenesis, apoptosis and toxicity in zebrafish, and use of high-throughput screening methods such as microplate analysis, commented Patricia McGrath, Phylonix President and Chief Executive Officer.

Cells that proliferate in their native environment also proliferate when transplanted into zebrafish; cells that are incapable of proliferating in their native environment usually do not proliferate in zebrafish.

Advantages of Zebrafish for Transplantation

Currently, the mouse is the model system of choice for cell transplantation assays. However, to prevent cell rejection, transplantation of human cells must be performed using immunosuppressed mice and these animals are expensive to develop and maintain. In comparison, cell transplantation in zebrafish larvae is simple and cost effective, and immunosuppression is not necessary.

There are several additional advantages of using zebrafish for transplantation assays. All essential components of vertebrate form and organ development are mimicked in the transparent zebrafish and their molecular basis is either identical or similar, underscoring the potential for use in research on human diseases. Due to the small size of zebrafish larvae, it is possible to rapidly analyze and or recover transplanted cells. Zebrafish larvae are transparent facilitating direct microscopic observation of a number of physiological processes within the cells. Zebrafish can be cultured in solution facilitating contacting transplanted cells with drugs or growth factors. Microliters of drug are required for zebrafish compared with milliliters per mouse. Standard microtiter plate readers can be used for measurement, making this format particularly attractive for high throughput drug screening. Phylonix and others have demonstrated that for many compounds, results in zebrafish correlate with results in other animal models as well as with results in humans.


Contact: Edward O'Lear
Phylonix Pharmaceuticals

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