CARY, N.C., July 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cornerstone Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: CRTX) ("Cornerstone"), a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing significant products primarily for the respiratory and related markets, today announced that the Company has reacquired all development and commercial rights to its high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) related technology from MedImmune, LLC ("MedImmune").
This technology is licensed to Cornerstone from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and was the subject of a July 30, 2003 Exclusive License and Collaboration Agreement between Cornerstone and MedImmune that focused on the use of the technology by MedImmune in developing antibodies that bind to the HMGB1 protein to reduce chronic inflammation associated with various medical conditions. HMGB1 is a nuclear DNA-binding protein, which is elevated in the body following infection or trauma and may be an important factor when developing therapeutics to treat these conditions. Unlike other previously identified cytokines, such as interleukin-1 and TNF-alpha, HMGB1 is expressed much later in the inflammatory response and persists at elevated levels in the bloodstream for a longer period of time. With Cornerstone's broad intellectual property portfolio and proof of concept having been achieved for two pre-clinical models with human anti-HMGB1 monoclonal antibodies, this technology could potentially be utilized to develop alternative therapies in diseases of sterile inflammation, such as stroke, heart attack and arthritis, as well as infection inflammation, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.
Cornerstone intends to identify a partner in order to move the development of this technology platform forward. The Company has not included any potential financial gain related to a possible out-license agreement for the HMGB1 protein technology in its 2010 guidance.
"While our strategic focus continues to be on acquiring and developing products for the respiratory and hospital markets, we believe that reacquiring these rights is a unique low-risk, high-reward opportunity for Cornerstone," said Craig A. Collard, Cornerstone's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Several parties have expressed to us their interest in further developing this valuable platform. We look forward to appropriately monetizing this asset, which would allow us to enhance our already strong balance sheet for possible product acquisition opportunities, as well as help fund the continued development of our internal drug pipeline."About HMGB1 High-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1), a DNA-binding protein, regulates gene transcription and stabilizes nucleosome formation. Elevated HMGB1 levels characterize various acute and chronic diseases and are implicated in inflammation and tissue injury. In addition to its role as a transcription factor, HMG is a late endogenous mediator of tissue injury, initiated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. HMG levels correlate with disease activity and rHMG induces injury and death.