UK and US companies link to accelerate Prostate
London, UK and Detroit, MI, October 8, 2002 — Onyvax Ltd,
a UK vaccine therapy company, and Asterand, a US-based clinical
genomics company, today announced they have signed a collaborative
agreement with the objective of furthering worldwide research
into prostate cancer.
The two companies are combining resources to make prostate cancer
cell lines available to both commercial and academic researchers.
“At the moment, research into prostate cancer is limited
by the fact that there are only three prostate cancer cell lines
in general use,” said Asterand CEO Randal Charlton.
Cancer cell lines are derived from tumors and grown indefinitely
in the laboratory. Researchers use cell lines to examine and
understand the nature of disease on a cellular and molecular
level. This in turn may lead to the development of therapeutics
to fight cancer.
Onyvax has spent several years developing therapeutic vaccines
for prostate cancer and has considerable expertise in deriving
cell lines. The Company, based at London’s St George’s
Hospital, already has one promising prostate cancer vaccine in
Phase II clinical trials in the UK.
In the process of developing potential vaccines, Onyvax has
produced a number of cell lines that could be valuable to other
researchers. These cell lines will be transferred to Asterand’s
laboratories at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.
“Asterand will characterize the cell lines provided by
Onyvax and distribute them to the research community,” explained
Mr. Charlton “We run one of the world’s leading biorepositories
for tissue based research into cancer and a wide range of other
diseases. Asterand specializes in supplying pharmaceutical and
biotechnology companies with biological material in various formats
and backed by detailed clinical data.”
“Asterand’s expertise in tissue processing and their network of clients
in the US and elsewhere will give us immediate access to the world’s leading
biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and their research programs,“ said
Onyvax CEO Anthony Walker. “Although our primary goal at Onyvax is to develop
our own vaccines for prostate and other cancers we believe we can provide researchers
with valuable material for a variety of important initiatives.”
Asterand is a clinical genomics company, which is building a
human tissue bank and associated data for research targeted at
cancer and a range of other diseases. Asterand’s research
clients include the world’s leading pharmaceutical and
The company was founded in May 2000 and has since developed
a network of accrual sites both within the US and in Europe,
Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The company has standardized
collection procedures including ethical protocols, which insure
that donor consent is obtained and that all material is anonymized.
Asterand’s shareholders include Oxford BioScience Partners;
the leading biotechnology venture fund in the US, and Fort Washington
Capital, a Cincinnati based financial services and investment