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Pangu BioPharma, aTyr Pharma's Subsidiary in Hong Kong, Files Three Patent Applications
Date:6/29/2009

aTyr Pharma Targets for Novel Biotherapeutics Based On Naturally Resected tRNA Synthetases

SAN DIEGO, June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Pangu BioPharma, a subsidiary of aTyr Pharma in Hong Kong, today announced the filing of its third patent application on proprietary, naturally occurring, resected human tRNA synthetases. Although tRNA synthetases are universal and essential components of protein synthesis machinery found in all organisms, human synthetases have naturally occurring resected variants with potent cell signaling activities that are vital to normal functioning of humans. The work at Pangu BioPharma is focused on identifying and characterizing new examples of the tRNA synthetases resectome. In just the first year of operations, Pangu BioPharma has built a strong patent portfolio that provides fundamental components of aTyr Pharma's portfolio of biotherapeutic candidates that can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases, such as cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic disorders.

Pangu BioPharma is the result of an innovative partnership between aTyr Pharma and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), with project funding from the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) of Hong Kong. James Cai, President of Pangu BioPharma, notes that, "Hong Kong's government and universities are working together to attract exciting drug discovery and development companies to make Hong Kong a new frontier in the biotechnology industry. We based Pangu BioPharma here in Hong Kong in order to capitalize on this unique position in Asia as well as to tap into the highly educated population and support of new technology industries. We are very excited about the productivity and the science being generated by the scientists in our labs here in Hong Kong, and believe that HKUST has been an essential partner in generating this mutual success."

According to Jeff Watkins, CEO of aTyr Pharma, "In just over a year from incorporation in Hong Kong, Pangu BioPharma has demonstrated how well the government, university and industry partnership works. In that short time, with the support of HKUST and funding from the ITC, we have attracted a highly skilled group of scientists, established a well quipped lab at HKUST with the latest technology, and built an IP generating platform at the Pangu BioPharma operations that has already yielded data to support three new patent applications. These inventions are key components of aTyr Pharma's product generating engine, and are proof of the strong support Pangu BioPharma receives from the Hong Kong government and HKUST."

Professor Paul Schimmel of The Scripps Research Institute is a visiting scholar at the Institute of Advanced Science at HKUST and a co-founder of aTyr Pharma as well as Pangu BioPharma. Professor Schimmel was the driver behind building the partnership between aTyr and HKUST. An expert on tRNA synthetases, Paul Schimmel has also been the co-founder or founding director of numerous successful biotechnology companies, including Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Alnylam, Repligen Corporation, Alkermes, Inc., Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Cubist Pharmaceuticals, which were taken public on the NASDAQ and are well established as companies that develop and market new medicines. "This is an exciting time to launch a biotechnology endeavor in Hong Kong. The government and university system in Hong Kong have a powerful vision to translate their strengths in research into a thriving biotechnology industry that opens the door to the valuable resources of China. aTyr Pharma and Pangu BioPharma are at the forefront of this effort and are pleased to have the ITC and HKUST as partners. We particularly value the contributions of Professors Mingjie Zhang and Nancy Ip of the Biochemistry Department at HKUST, as well as Matthew Yuen of HKUST's Research and Development group," says Professor Schimmel. Pangu BioPharma is planning to expand its drug discovery efforts in Hong Kong with continued support from HKUST and ITC.


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