Protemix Corporation Steps On World Biotech Stage
Media Release – New Zealand
4th February 2005
Protemix Corporation `Takes Big Step onto World Biotech Stage’
New Zealand biopharmaceutical company Protemix Corporation has taken a major step forward in its development by recruiting a top American pharmaceutical expert to head up its new centre of northern hemisphere operations in San Diego.
Protemix founder Professor Garth Cooper has recruited Larry Ellingson, former Eli Lilly and Company executive and current Chairman of the American Diabetes Association as Protemix’s new US-based Chief Executive Officer. Professor Cooper previously invented amylin replacement therapy for diabetes, and co-founded NASDAQ listed biopharmaceutical company, Amylin Pharmaceuticals. He now broadens his role to become President and Chief Technical Officer of Protemix.
Mr Ellingson will be based at a new Protemix office to be opened in San Diego, one of the recognised world centres for biopharmaceuticals, where he will focus on extending and developing Protemix’s commercial relationships, in particular, to progress LaszarinTM , the company’s lead compound through the international Phase 3 (human) trials for the treatment of heart failure in people with diabetes. He will also be responsible for further developing the international corporate team covering regulatory affairs, clinical trials and business development.
Professor Cooper explained: `I returned to New Zealand in 1993 with the intention of grounding any new discovery and commercialisation in this country. This has now happened and we are now taking a big step onto the world biotech stage. Protemix will operate jointly in New Zealand and the US. This is an example of a New Zealand company reaching out to collaborate with the United States on a topic of great importance to both countries. We expect Phase 3 trials in humans to begin in early 2006. If successful in Phase 3, Laszarin™, which is the first treatment in its class, has a potential worldwide market of over two million people with diabetic heart failure.
‘The task of taking a significant treatment, such as Laszarin™ through multi-national clinical trials now necessitates a major boost to our capabilities. Larry is uniquely placed to advance Laszarin™ and Protemix to the next level internationally and San Diego is an ideal location to base our northern hemisphere operations. After more than ten years hard work establishing Protemix, it is now ready to expand its existing corporate and financial relationships with multi-national companies in the northern hemisphere. New Zealand is and will remain the scientific powerhouse of our activities, but this is a textbook example of a New Zealand company going global, while keeping true to our roots’.
Mr Ellingson commented: `This is all about leading Kiwi research science showing what can be done. I’ve worked in large pharmaceutical companies, but the Protemix laboratory resources and facilities are second to none in the world. What Protemix has done is bring forward a number of potential new medicines in a much shorter period of time than has been achieved elsewhere. This is not a one molecule company. With three compounds in the development phase and a further six in the discovery pipeline Protemix has an impressive platform from which to advance towards commercialisation. I believe we are well advanced in being able to make a major contribution to alleviating suffering from diabetes, a primary cause of death worldwide, with the first of our new compounds. Within eighteen months we will have Laszarin™ in Phase 3 and have two more potential new medicines in human trials, which is pretty remarkable for any one company.
`We are opening a portal to the world, not just the US, but to Europe and the rest of Asia Pacific. New Zealand science is getting out there in the global marketplace. I am passionate about the science and medicine of this business and when the opportunity came to work with Professor Cooper and his world class discovery team it was irresistible.’
Professor Keith Mansford, Chairman of Protemix’s Board of Directors, added: `I am delighted that we have been able to attract Larry to join Protemix. It is a powerful endorsement of the level of accomplishment that the company has been able to achieve by international standards.’
ABOUT LARRY ELLINGSON AND THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION
Until 2001 Mr Ellingson was Executive Director for Endocrine Professional Relations and Advocacy at US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Prior to that he held several positions in diabetes at Lilly, including leading the team for the successful registration of the diabetes treatment, Actos, leader of the insulins product team and director of new product planning, which included responsibilities for global planning for gastrointestinal, skeletal, infectious diseases, cardiovascular and endocrine diseases. Mr Ellingson will continue to serve as a Director with the American Diabetes Association beyond completing his year as Chairman of the Board, which ends in June at the association’s annual meeting in San Diego.
The American Diabetes Association is one of the US's leading non-profit health organisations providing diabetes research, information and advocacy for both the 18.2 million Americans with diabetes and healthcare professionals. The moving force behind the ADA’s work is a network of more than 1 million volunteers, including a membership of 430,000 diabetes patients and their families and a professional society of more than 18,000 physicians, scientists, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers and educators.
Over the last year, more than 350,000 people contacted the Association with questions and concerns, or to seek support or direction regarding diabetes and its management.
Protemix’s lead product candidate, Laszarin™ is a therapeutic copper binding molecule due to enter multinational Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of heart failure in people with diabetes. Laszarin™ has been shown in experimental models to significantly alleviate heart failure following seven weeks of treatment, without lowering blood glucose. It was also shown to substantially improve the structure of cardiac muscle cells, and to reverse scarring of the heart. Oral treatment with Laszarin™ has been demonstrated to result in elevated copper excretion in humans with type 2 diabetes and, following six months of treatment, caused elevated left ventricular mass to decline significantly toward normal. Laszarin™ has been shown to be well tolerated by patients in clinical trials to date.
ABOUT PROTEMIX CORPORATION
Protemix is an independent New Zealand-based biopharmaceutical company established over ten years ago, with its research facilities located within The University of Auckland. It develops novel therapies for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders. Professor Cooper, Protemix’s President and Chief Technical Officer, previously discovered the peptide hormone amylin, invented amylin replacement therapy for diabetes, and founded Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a NASDAQ-listed biopharmaceutical company. Professor Keith Mansford, former Chairman, Research and Development at SmithKline Beecham, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Protemix.