July 8, 2003
Revivicor, Inc. Contact: David Ayares, CEO
1700 Kraft Drive, Suite 2400
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Tel: (540) 961-5559
Fax: (540) 961-7958
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
REVIVICOR WINS $1.9 MILLION ATP GRANT TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGY FOR PRODUCING RETROVIRUS-FREE XENOGRAFTS
COMPANY ESTABLISHES NEW NAME: REVIVICOR, INC.
BLACKSBURG, Virginia: Revivicor Inc. (formerly PPL Therapeutics Inc.) is pleased to announce its success in winning a third competitive grant in the companys history from the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Dept of Commerce). The single company grant to Revivicor, of $1.9m over 3 years, has been awarded to fund further work on the development of safe therapeutic products from pigs for xenotransplantation. The transfer of organs or tissues from pigs to humans, otherwise known as xenotransplantation, offers a promising solution for overcoming the critical shortage of human organs and tissues available for transplantation.
With prior ATP funding, the Company succeeded in cloning pigs that lacked both copies of the gene responsible for making alpha-1,3-galactosyltransferase (a-1,3GT). Tissues derived from these a1,3GT "double knockout" pigs are much less likely to undergo acute rejection when transplanted into humans. Scientists at Revivicor have been collaborating for the past 3 years with Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, and others at the University of Pittsburgh (the #1 transplant hospital in the World). Pre-clinical testing of tissues from the a1,3GT knockout pigs in non-human primates, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh team, is ongoing.
The focus of the current ATP grant is to develop an innovative approach that offers the potential for producing xenograft tissues that are free of pig endogenous retroviruses (PERV). The risk of potential transmission of PERV to transplant recipients is only theoretical, given that there is no evidence of transmission to humans or non-human primates. However, in order to be proactive in the development of xenograft treatments, Revivicor proposes to genetically modify a-1,3GT double knockout pigs so the resultant pigs will be incapable of producing PERV or its derivatives, including any that could potentially arise as a result of recombination events. Success of this project is expected to facilitate regulatory approval of xenotransplants from pigs for human use and pave the way for a readily available supply of donor organs and tissues.
David Ayares, CEO of Revivicor, Inc. said: "The development of pigs which cannot make PERV is another important step in the companys focused efforts for the development of a cure for Type 1 diabetes, as well as, whole organ replacements for treatment of kidney, heart, and liver failure, thus providing the opportunity for improving the quality of life for these patients".
Revivicor was formed on April 8, 2003, as a spinout of the US division of PPL Therapeutics Plc, with investments from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), HighMark Health Ventures, and Fujisawa Investments for Entrepreneurship (FITE). In addition to its advanced program in xenotransplantation, Revivicor is developing stem cell technologies for potential treatment of diabetes and neurological diseases; as well as, an infectious disease platform, making use of human polyclonal antibodies, produced in genetically modified livestock.
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Notes to Editors