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Panacea Pharmaceuticals to Present Data on a Novel Cancer Biomarker

Press Release


September 12, 2006 – Gaithersburg, Maryland – Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will present data on their novel and proprietary cancer biomarker during the Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development meeting, sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, starting today in Chicago.  The Company’s scientists will give a presentation on the utility of gene expression of Human aspartyl (asparaginyl) Beta-hydroxylase (HAAH) as a biomarker to diagnose and monitor disease status in patients with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), along with a poster describing data supporting serum HAAH as a biomarker for prostate cancer.  In addition, Company scientists will present a poster on the manufacture of anti-HAAH antibodies as potential human therapeutics.



The 2006 AACR-Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development meeting will be held September 12-15th at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  This multidisciplinary meeting will be attended by more than 700 individuals including basic scientists, clinical oncologists, and physician-scientists from academia, government and industry. 


Panacea conducted a series of experiments using blood samples from patients with AML.  At the time of diagnosis leukocytes from patients displayed increased HAAH gene expression when compared to healthy normal subjects.  Increased HAAH gene expression was detected in multiple AML subtypes, as well.  HAAH gene expression decreased to near normal levels following successful treatment.  These data suggest that HAAH gene expression measured in peripheral blood leukocytes may be helpful in monitoring remission in patients with AML and may replace bone marrow biopsy, a painful and expensive diagnostic procedure.


Another series of experiments examined serum levels of HAAH in patients with and without prostate cancer.  Serum HAAH levels were significantly elevated in all patients with prostate cancer, and not in those without prostate cancer, as confirmed by biopsy.  These preliminary results indicate that serum HAAH may have significantly higher sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of prostate cancer compared to prostate-specific antigen, the most commonly used serum screening diagnostic tool.  Additional clinical studies are underway to determine the diagnostic performance of the serum HAAH assay in prostate cancer screening.  The Company plans to offer serum HAAH diagnostic testing in January 2007.


As part of its cancer therapeutic product development efforts, Panacea has developed human anti-HAAH antibodies; production of these antibodies has been initiated at a contract manufacturer.  Initial therapeutic targets for monoclonal antibody products include prostate and liver cancers.  Murine monoclonal anti-HAAH antibodies have been shown to inhibit tumor cell proliferation, motility and invasiveness.  Efficacy of these antibodies has been demonstrated in several in vivo xenograft cancer models.  The Company has successfully re-engineered two murine anti-HAAH antibodies as mouse-human chimeras.  In addition, the Company in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed an engineered, fully human anti-HAAH antibody.  These antibodies

have demonstrated functional equivalence to their murine counterparts in terms of antigen specificity and binding.


Dr. Hossein Ghanbari


“As a small company, we are quite excited to be invited by AACR to give one oral presentation and two posters during the Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development meeting,” commented Hossein Ghanbari, Ph.D., Chairman, CEO and CSO of Panacea Pharmaceuticals.  “We view these opportunities as recognition of our scientific and product development achievements and we look forward to commercial success in the next few years.”


About Panacea’s Oncology Platform

Panacea is pursuing the development of antibodies directed against Human aspartyl (asparaginyl) Beta-hydroxylase (HAAH) as novel agents for the treatment of cancer with liver cancer as its first intended indication. The Company is exploring both naked anti-HAAH antibodies, as well as antibody conjugates with various chemotherapeutic agents as lead candidates.  Panacea is also pursuing the development of diagnostic products based on HAAH gene expression and anti-HAAH antibodies. A test to determine responsiveness to a current therapy of choice in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia utilizing HAAH gene expression is available through Panacea Laboratories.  A proprietary blood-based assay has shown high sensitivity and specificity in the detection of a range of cancers, thus facilitating the diagnosis and therapeutic management of disease.  Initial targets for the blood-based diagnostic products include prostate and liver cancers. 


About Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutics and diagnostics for diseases with substantial, unmet clinical needs. The Company’s product development strategy is based on novel therapeutic agents and approaches for cancer treatment, as well as acute and chronic neurodegenerative conditions, such as hypoxia-induced neurological insult, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Panacea has an extensive patent portfolio covering its neurodegenerative and oncology technologies.


More information about the Company is available at


Except for historical information presented in this press release, matters discussed herein may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management only as of the date of this release and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to, uncertainties related to our access to capital, the progress, costs, and results of any clinical trials undertaken by us, progress of our research and development projects, and uncertainties related to whether our product candidates would ultimately achieve commercial success. We do not undertake any obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise unless required by law.



Iranian-Americans among key personnel


Hossein A. Ghanbari, Ph.D. is Chairman, CEO/CSO, and co-founder of Panacea. Dr. Ghanbari worked at the world headquarters of Abbott Laboratories in Chicago, Illinois for nearly ten years, where he developed several pharmaceutical and diagnostic products, including the first Alzheimer’s test marketed in the World. He was a member of NDA Team for Leupron, a very successful drug. He also directed the Analytical Sections of an IND application for an antibody-based viral drug. He served on Abbott’s Technical Advisory Board and was inducted into the Volwiler Society, a prestigious honorary organization that serves as Abbott’s recognition of the highest standards of scientific accomplishment. Subsequently, he co-founded Molecular Geriatrics Corporation, a bio-pharmaceutical company that focuses on developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases, and served as its Senior Vice-President for R&D. Dr. Ghanbari served as Senior Vice-President for R&D and Strategic Planning as well as Director for four years at Nymox Pharmaceutical Corporation. He was instrumental in starting Nymox (NASDAQ: NYMX), and was responsible for bringing in an array of technologies that have established Nymox as an international presence in the area of Alzheimer’s diagnostics and therapeutics.  There, he developed the first marketed CSF-based and urine-based Alzheimer’s tests. Dr. Ghanbari also currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Alzheimer’s Corporation of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Chairman of Hygea BioPharma of Gaithersburg, MD. Prior to his joining the industry sector, Dr. Ghanbari worked in academia for seven years, mainly with Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida and Arya-Mehr University of Technology. Dr. Ghanbari received a BS degree with distinction from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D., both in Biochemistry, from Pennsylvania State University.  He has authored 58 publications and is inventor on 61 issued or pending patents


Mehdi Hatamian, Ph.D. is a Director of the Company. He is Vice-President of DSP Microelectronics Technology at Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ: BRCM). Previously, he was Vice-President of Technology at Silicon Design Experts, Inc., which he co-founded. Dr. Hatamian spent 10-years at Bell Laboratories, where he was named Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff. He also worked for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, developing hardware and software designs to support in-flight biomedical experiments. Dr. Hatamian has published nearly 50 papers in his areas of expertise and holds 10 issued patents with several patents pending. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Dr. Hatamian sits on the Board of Directors of several technology companies.  He is also Chairman/CEO of Smart Medical Technologies, Inc.


Kasra Ghanbari is co-founder and Director of the Company. He served as Panacea’s COO from inception through December 2002 and President from January 2003 to August 2004. Prior to Panacea, he contributed significantly in starting Nymox Pharmaceutical Corporation (NASDAQ: NYMX) in Montreal, Quebec, where he served as Project Leader for Alzheimer’s Diagnostic Development, responsible for developing the AD7CTM test, an Alzheimer’s disease diagnostic test currently marketed throughout the world. As Director of Laboratory & Technical Operations, he established the U.S. Operations of Nymox in Rockville, Maryland, housing the majority of the Company’s R&D activities as well as a CLIA-certified Clinical Reference Laboratory commercializing specialty diagnostic tests, where he served as Scientific & Technical Director. Prior to Nymox, he was a Research Assistant at Molecular Geriatrics Corporation in Lake Bluff, Illinois, utilizing state-of-the-art proteomic techniques to identify disease-relevant proteins as potential drug targets and biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Ghanbari has published over 30 scientific publications and abstracts. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana studying Biology and Philosophy of Religion.

... Payvand News - 9/20/06 ... --

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