SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA and TORONTO, CANADA (March 12, 2008) — VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company using embryonic stem (ES) cell technologies to discover and develop new drugs for diabetes and neurological disorders, today announced an expansive ES cell research alliance with Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN), Canada’s leading research hospital, and its stem cell research affiliate, the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.
The new collaboration positions VistaGen to continue to leverage the ES cell biology expertise and leading-edge ES cell technologies of Dr. Gordon Keller, one of the world’s leading stem cell researchers and the Director of the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine. VistaGen and Dr. Keller expect to conduct research into advanced techniques to differentiate ES cells into mature cardiac, liver, and pancreatic beta-islet cells. This will enhance VistaGen’s industry-leading, in vitro biological systems and bioinformatics databases for predictive toxicology applications.
Collaboration to Benefit Both New Drug Testing and New Drug Development
The new sponsored research program builds on VistaGen’s existing strategic licenses to Dr. Keller’s prior ES cell intellectual property, and covers new ES cell-based research projects.
VistaGen also expects to use the results of this research to develop the next generation of its customized ES cell-based heart, liver and pancreatic beta-islet cell differentiation systems for discovering new drugs to treat heart disease, liver disease and diabetes.
“This collaboration dramatically expands our ES cell R&D programs,” said Dr. Ralph Snodgrass, President and CEO of VistaGen. “Through the new arrangement with UHN and the McEwen Centre, a partnership that builds on our 10-year relationship with Dr. Keller, we expect to develop and commercialize a broad range of next generation stem cell technologies for the pharmaceutical industry. Our team shares the vision of the architects of California’s Stem Cell Initiative, the McEwen Centre, Dr. Gordon Keller, and the other world-class researchers at UHN — that we are at the beginning of an exciting new era where innovative stem cell technologies will give us the tools and approaches to accelerate the discovery and development of safer, more effective new drugs and clinical applications that will make a difference in the lives of millions worldwide.”
“This partnership with VistaGen is an important step toward realizing the founding goals of our Center — to harness the power of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine to develop new treatments for a wide range of life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Gordon Keller, Director of the UHN’s McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.
“We recognize the need to create effective public-private partnerships to advance UHN’s healthcare mandate. We are pleased our new partnership with VistaGen creates this important linkage with Dr. Keller and his pioneering work in the area of ES cell research, and welcome VistaGen to the growing list of companies establishing strong collaborative linkages with our leading research scientists in the other program areas,” said Dr. Chris Paige, Vice President, Research at UHN.
About VistaGen Therapeutics
VistaGen Therapeutics is a leader in the rapidly expanding field of embryonic stem (ES) cell technologies. VistaGen’s industry advantage is built around the use of its proprietary ES cell technology platform as customizable, therapeutically-focused drug discovery and drug development tools. VistaGen uses its ES cell technology platform to enable itself and its pharmaceutical partners to discover, develop and commercialize a wide range of novel small molecule drugs and protein therapeutics for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, brain disorders and other neurological disorders. VistaGen’s stem cell technology platform enables its scientists and research partners to direct the development of ES cells into a broad range of functional human cells, including heart, liver, nerve and insulin-producing beta-islet cells, in a commercially efficient and reproducible process. VistaGen is leveraging its stem cell technology platform through multiple internal drug discovery programs and strategic collaborations. VistaGen’s lead small molecule drug candidate, AV-101, is a novel prodrug NMDA receptor regulator expected to enter clinical development in the first half of 2008 for neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information, visit www.vistagen.com.
About University Health Network
University Health Network consists of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, and genomic medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.
About the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine
The McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine was founded with generous donations from Rob and Cheryl McEwen, totaling $20 million since 2003. The McEwen Centre’s mission is to be a catalyst for regenerative medicine by facilitating collaboration, supporting research, and promoting awareness of the field. The Centre includes 15 scientists at five Toronto hospitals and the University of Toronto, working to accelerate the development of more effective treatments for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and spinal cord injury. The McEwen Centre is supported by philanthropic contributions and research grants, and is based at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. For more information, visit www.mcewencentre.com
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