New Company Formed Through Licensing Of Cardiac-Hypertrophy Technology From Texas Institutions

DALLAS - November 18, 1998 - ManTex Biotech Inc., a company based on discoveries concerning enlargement of the heart by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, today announced joint licensing of the technologies with the two medical institutions.

"We have made exciting progress toward understanding cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure," said Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology and oncology at UT Southwestern and a world-renowned heart researcher. "In particular, the discovery of a calcium-signaling system that controls cardiac enlargement and the development of genetically engineered mice that mimic human heart disease, represent powerful new approaches for drug discovery. These approaches, which will be the foundation of ManTex Biotech, should lead to the rapid development of new strategies for treatment of heart disease."

Cardiac hypertrophy, which involves enlargement of the heart, is the organ's natural response to stress, including that from hypertension or heart attacks. Although initially beneficial, the enlargement eventually weakens the heart, causing it to behave like spent elastic.

"These are the first really good genetic models that target cardiac enzymes and appear to constitute the master switch in the process of cardiac hypertrophy," said Dr. Stephen Grant, director of UNT Health Science Center's cardiac and vascular molecular genetics laboratory. "We found that if this switch is left on, hearts enlarge, dramatically increasing the potential for heart failure."

The discoveries received international attention when presented in the April 17, 1998 issue of Cell. The cover article reported that two existing drugs, cyclosporine A and FK 506, could prevent hypertrophy in mice by targeting the enzyme calcineurin. At last week's American Heart Association meeting in Dallas, Olson presented additional licensed discoveries

Contact: Susan Steeves
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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