Press Release
Feb. 13, 2003

KALAMAZOO--Feb. 13, 2003--A Tennessee firm will develop and commercialize a recent Pharmacia Corp. drug patent donation to Western Michigan University,
and the firm will join the growing cluster of life science companies to open research facilities in Kalamazoo.

VDDI Pharmaceuticals of Brentwood, Tenn., has been awarded exclusive worldwide rights to a portfolio of patents for the drug Xemilofiban (ZEHM-ih-loe-feye-ban) through a licensing agreement with WMU. The firm was recruited for the work by Kalamazoo economic development agency, Southwest Michigan First, which also has recruited VDDI to open a research facility later this year in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.

Pharmacia's patent donation to the University was announced in January. VDDI is expected to do development work on the drug, conduct clinical trials in Ireland if such trials are needed and eventually commercialize the drug for use in the treatment of
cardiac patients. WMU will enjoy royalties from any profits that result from the drug's successful commercialization.

"Pharmacia made this gift as a way to benefit both the University and the Kalamazoo community," says Dr. Daniel M. Litynski, WMU interim president. "With Southwest Michigan First and WMU's research office working in tandem, the project will serve as an example of how to harness technology transfer as an important economic development tool. This is a model that we want to repeat often."

VDDI will develop Xemilofiban through its global network of resources, which includes offices in Dublin, Ireland, for its European clinical development program; planned new facilities in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center for project management,
regulatory affairs, research and development; and its new headquarters in the Cool Springs Life Sciences Center of Brentwood, Tenn. The firm also has offices in Connecticut, Florida and in Bangkok, Thailand.

"The acquisition of Xemilofiban represents a rare opportunity for VDDI to establish itself as a premier Midwestern pharmaceutical company with a global reach," says Dr. Stephen Porter, VDDI president and chief executive officer. "This development fits
perfectly into our business model that calls for strategic outsourcing and maximum leveraging of our human and financial capital."

In addition to the Xemilofiban work in Kalamazoo, Porter says his firm also will launch a research initiative locally and in Ulster, Northern Ireland that will focus on medical peptides.

VDDI and the University of Ulster, based in Northern Ireland, have agreed to commercialize of leading edge medical peptide research at the University. The University of Ulster is the leading university in the UK for biomedical sciences research and has been at the forefront of positioning Northern Ireland as a center of excellence for the biotechnology industry.

VDDI's initial Kalamazoo work force is projected to include seven research specialists. Porter says he will launch the local operation during the second quarter of 2003.

The development is the result of Kalamazoo's new focus on technology transfer, says Barry Broome, Southwest Michigan First's executive director and chief operating officer, who is an advocate of a "license-in" approach to fostering scientific growth in the
community.

"Typically, universities and companies develop technology through basic research," says Broome, "Our model calls for acquiring basic research and matching it with companies that can successfully bring the technology to market."

Broome points out that companies, such as large pharmaceutical firms, often decide against developing a product because the eventual market for the product is too small or because the product does not fit the company's core business. Southwest Michigan First, Broome says, is out to mine technology from such firms, and channel it through WMU. The donating company will get the benefit of a tax write-off for the gift, and WMU will receive a technology asset that can be used to either attract a firm to develop the product through a licensing agreement or promote academic research if the product is
developed within the University.

Xemilofiban, the drug VDDI will develop through the WMU license, is an oral compound that shows promise in preventing heart attacks and other cardiovascular damage due to clotting during such treatments as angioplasty and the placement of stents. Similar products used for the same purpose are given intravenously, giving Xemilofiban an
obvious advantage over what is currently on the market. The drug's intravenous competitors have combined annual revenues of about $1 billion.

Xemilofiban had undergone Phase III clinical trials involving more than 7,000 patients in the United States before development work was discontinued. Porter says his company has recast the clinical and regulatory development program with the assistance of a
multinational advisory group. Using a restructured dosing scheme and narrowed patient selection, Porter says that recent input from a VDD sponsored focus group, at the American Heart Association meeting suggested that Xemilofiban could be commercialized without additional clinical trials. However, if that strategy fails then successful completion of an additional Phase III trial, drug could then introduce the product for sale in about two years. He estimates the annual global market to include more than 2 million patients.

"The Xemi technology will contribute to public health as it will be developed into a drug that will treat life-threatening cardiovascular diseases with a significant pharmoeconomic advantage and allow us to address a large, unmet medical need in Europe, Canada and Australia," Porter says.

VDDI focuses on pharmaceutical products primarily for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. The firm specializes in developing products that have already shown promise in pre-clinical or human testing, and projects in which the products are novel and offer significant potential advantages to products
already on the market or in development.

The recruitment of VDDI for the project grew out of a series of investment meetings - Investing In Innovation Forums put on by Southwest Michigan First and ARCH Development Partners, a venture capital firm. The forums are designed to match investors with companies that have promising technology.

VDDI's Porter says he was attracted by support from the local community and the Kalamazoo area's storied history in pharmaceutical development that has left the area with a wealth of drug development expertise.

"Scientific and regulatory talent is hard to come by," Porter
notes. "They're usual content with their existing environment and do
not want to be uprooted."


Contact:

WMU,Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8412
Southwest Michigan First, Kel Lee Chin, (269) 553-9588



 

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