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Merix BIOSCIENCE APPOINTS WORLD'S LEADING DENDRITIC CELL RESEARCHERS
TO EXPERT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, October 11, 2001 - Merix Bioscience, Inc. (Merix)
announced today that three of the world's leading scientists in the field
of dendritic cell research - Dr. Ralph Steinman of Rockefeller University,
Dr. Jacques Banchereau of Baylor Research Institute and Dr. Gerold Schuler
of the University of Erlangen, Germany - have joined the Company's Expert
Advisory Committee. This Committee will participate in the planning and
execution of research projects that aid and broaden the development of
Merix's proprietary individualized RNA-based cancer vaccines. The Committee
will work in conjunction with Dr. Eli Gilboa of Duke University Medical
Center (DUMC), original founder of Merix, who developed the RNA-based
technology platform, and Dr. Johannes Vieweg, also of DUMC, a leading
clinical investigator with dendritic cell vaccines.
Additionally, Merix announced that it has obtained licenses and/or options to
intellectual property developed by Drs. Steinman, Banchereau and Schuler, from
their respective universities and institutes. This will allow the Company to
broaden its business into the Antiviral, Autoimmunity and Transplantation markets
while maintaining Merix's core concentration on Oncology.
"This is a major achievement for Merix as these scientists are internationally
recognized pioneers in the field of dendritic cell technology. We are excited
to have them aboard to help Merix develop and commercialize the technology. Through
their combined expertise we can build a world renowned company that will establish
the standard for personalized vaccinations for cancer treatment," said Mark
Weedon, President and CEO of Merix Bioscience.
The Merix platform is based on stimulating the patient's own immune system to
produce an immunological response to the patient's tumor, utilizing dendritic
cells. Dendritic cells are a group of specialized cells that can recognize and
hold antigens for a long period of time, assisting in stimulating T cells for
a specific response.
These experts, who are each conducting research and/or clinical trials at their
respective universities and institutes have been associated with dendritic cell
research since the cells were first discovered by Dr. Steinman over 20 years
ago. Their contributions will be used to complement and expand the existing RNA-based
dendritic cell technologies previously licensed by Merix from Duke University.
Funding for on going research, pre-clinical and clinical trials was raised in
a $39.5 million second round of venture financing announced in September 2001.
Ralph M. Steinman, M.D., heads the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology
at Rockefeller University, where he is the Henry G. Kunkel Professor and Senior
Physician. Dr. Steinman is cited as the discoverer of dendritic cells (1973)
and has continued since then to study dendritic cell physiology, including the
use of dendritic cells to understand and manipulate the human immune response.
Dr. Steinman received his undergraduate degree from McGill University, and his
M.D. from Harvard University. "I am pleased that the results of my research
using dendritic cell physiology will get to the clinical setting to help understand
the body's immune defense system and thereby create more effective preventions
and treatments for a wide range of diseases," said Dr. Steinman.
Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., is the director of the Baylor Institute for Immunology
Research (Dallas, Texas), which he helped establish in 1996. He holds the Max
and Gayle Clampitt Chair for Immunology Research. While serving as director of
BIIR, Dr. Banchereau also teaches at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
School as an adjunct professor. Previously, he was director of the Schering-Plough
Laboratory for Immunological Research near Lyon, France. Dr. Banchereau has investigated
various areas of immunology and cancer. He was among the first to discover how
to grow human dendritic cells. Dr. Banchereau earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry
from the University of Paris. "I'm excited to work alongside Eli, Ralph
and Gerold where together our combined expertise will accelerate the road to
new and effective treatments for cancer and other diseases," reported Dr.
Gerold Schuler, M.D., is professor of Dermatology, and currently director of
the Department of Dermatology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.
Dr. Schuler is noted for his development of the concept of dendritic cell "maturation" as
well as the identification of GM-CSF as the critical cytokine for generation
of dendritic cells from hematopoietic precursors. His present research focuses
on dendritic cell vaccination of tumors and immune disorders. He is a member
of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Schuler was graduated as an M.D. at
the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and received extensive post-doctoral training
both in dermatology and immunology. "Merix has afforded me the opportunity
to integrate R&D plans on both continents while working with the world's
most talented team in this field," said Dr. Schuler.
Merix Bioscience, Inc. is a private immunotherapy company poised to assume leadership
in the large emerging market of cancer vaccines. The Company's proprietary platform
technology encompasses methods to optimize the preparation of dendritic cells,
methods for the antigen loading (transfection) of dendritic cells, and the application
of the resulting vaccines in the treatment of cancer, chronic infectious diseases
and immune disorders. Merix offers a unique and proprietary ability to produce
a nearly limitless supply of individualized (autologous) vaccine for potentially
every cancer patient, a vaccine created from the body's own dendritic cells pulsed
with amplified messenger RNA (mRNA) from the patient's cancer (RNA-loaded DC