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UroGenesys researchers discover new target antigen for prostate cancers

STEAP Antigen Provides Promising Route for New Therapies, PNAS Reports

Santa Monica, CA, December 7, 1999 - UroGenesys, Inc. today reported the discovery of a novel gene that provides a promising route for developing new therapies to treat prostate cancer. The studies, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), describe a novel cell-surface antigen called STEAP which is expressed at high levels on prostate cancers, but is rarely produced in non-prostate tissues. These results indicate that the STEAP molecule may have utility as a target for new prostate cancer therapies, as well as for improved diagnostic tools to help monitor progression of the disease.

"STEAP possesses several features that make it a promising target for new cancer treatments," said Aya Jakobovits, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer at UroGenesys and an author on the paper. "The antigen is expressed at high levels on prostate tumors throughout all stages of the disease, including metastatic tumors. Its prostate-specific expression suggests that drugs targeted to STEAP may have a favorable safety profile."

Dr. Jakobovits continued, "STEAP is also expressed in androgen-independent tumors, providing an avenue for treatment of cancers that have become resistant to conventional hormone ablation therapies. Its presence on the surface of prostate cancer cells makes the molecule suitable for a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, including antibodies, small molecules and vaccines."

"STEAP is the first antigen to emerge from UroGenesys' in-house discovery program," said Donald B. Rice, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of UroGenesys. "The discovery illustrates how our disease-focused genomics program positions UroGenesys to identify and advance the development of products that may lead to improved treatments for prostate and other cancers." Dr. Rice added that UroGenesys plan
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Contact: Robert Gottlieb or Sharon Karlsberg
skarlsberg@fkhealth.com
617-577-8110
Feinstein Kean Healthcare
6-Dec-1999


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