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Yale Licenses Potential Anti-HIV Agent to Oncolys BioPharma of Japan


New Haven, Conn. — Yale University today announced that it has concluded a license agreement granting Oncolys BioPharma, Inc. of Tokyo the global exclusive right for clinical and business development of a novel compound for the treatment of HIV.

A patent application has been submitted by Yale for 2’, 3’-Didehydro-3’-Deoxy-4’-Ethynylthymidine, or Ed4T, a compound with a new and potentially effective anti-HIV clinical treatment.

Ed4T is a thymidine analogue that blocks HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, the enzyme that is essential for viral replication. The compound was discovered and developed jointly by Professor Masanori Baba of Kagoshima University and Professor Hiromichi Tanaka of Showa University in Japan, and Yung-Chi Cheng, the Henry Bronson Professor of Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine.

“This license agreement was possible because Yale has shown keen appreciation of our corporate philosophy — pharmaceutical development creating timely remedies for maximum patient relief,” said Yasuo Urata, President and CEO of Oncolys BioPharma. “We will give this project our concentrated effort so that patients worldwide can have the benefit of ‘Ed4T’as soon as possible.” Pre-clinical studies have already begun and Oncolys BioPharma will accelerate the studies with a target of initiating Phase I/II clinical trials in 2008.

An estimated 20 million people worldwide have died from AIDS and 40.3 million are infected with the virus. In 2004, a reported 1,000 patients in Japan were infected — and the numbers are rapidly increasing.

“Yale is very proud of the contribution it makes to fighting the HIV pandemic though discovery of novel antiviral drugs,” stated E. Jonathan Soderstrom, Managing Director of the Yale Office of Cooperative Research, which is responsible for licensing technologies on behalf of Yale inventors and their academic partners. “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Oncolys Biopharma to commercialize Ed4T.”

Since 1985, when AZT was introduced into clinical practice, 18 products have been approved and commercialized worldwide as anti-HIV-1 treatment. The drugs are in four categories, according to their various modes of action and chemical structures. Of the available drugs, seven are Nucleoside-analogue Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs), three are Non NRTIs (NNRTI), seven are Protease Inhibitors, and one is a Fusion Inhibitor.

The current standard treatment for AIDS is HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy), a combination regimen including drugs with different modes of action. HAART has two standard regimens: either treatment with two NRTIs plus one or two Protease Inhibitor(s), or treatment with two NRTIs plus one NNRTI.

However, during long-term treatment with anti-HIV-1 drugs, patients can develop a resistant strain of the virus, and require a new drug to counter the mutation.

Pharmacological studies have demonstrated that Ed4T has more potent anti-HIV activity than the existing NRTI and is active against those viruses that are resistant to the existing NRTI and NNRTI drugs. Further, Ed4T does not affect DNA synthesis in mitochondria, a toxic side effect of some nucleotide analogues. These findings suggested that Ed4T might offer unique therapeutic advantages over existing anti-HIV drugs.

Oncolys BioPharma Inc. was founded in March 2004 to develop and commercialize Telomelysin, an engineered virus that infects and destroys cancer cells. In March 2006, the company applied to the FDA for approval of a Clinical Study in patients with cancer. The company has recently added infectious disease as a strategic target. Further information on the company, headquartered in Tokyo, is available by contacting the company at +81-3-5575-3378 or and online at

The Yale University Office of Cooperative Research manages intellectual assets created at Yale. Further information on licensing agreements is available through or at online.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 48(5):1640-6 (May 2004). Novel 4‘-Substituted Stavudine Analog with Improved Anti-Human Immunodeficiency Virus Activity and Decreased Cytotoxicity
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 49(8):3355-60 (Aug2005). Anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 activity and resistance profile of 2’,3’-didehydro-3’-deoxy-4’-ethynylthymidine in vitro.


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