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Aequus BioPharma Appoints Ronald J. Berenson, M.D. President and CEO

Experienced industry entrepreneur to expand Aequus' product development opportunities

SEATTLE, Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Aequus BioPharma, a majority owned subsidiary of Cell Therapeutics, Inc., announced today that Ronald J. Berenson, M.D. was appointed President and CEO of Aequus. In his new position, Dr. Berenson will expand business and product development opportunities for Aequus' GlycoPolymer technology. Aequus is currently developing its GlycoPolymer technology aimed at creating novel biopharmaceuticals with improved pharmacokinetic properties that require less frequent injections than current therapies.

Dr. Berenson has more than 20 years of senior management experience in biotechnology, and was most recently an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Washington. He previously co-founded and served as President and CEO of HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals during the company's first three years, successfully ushering the company's programs into early clinical development of its lead compounds. His background also includes senior executive roles at numerous oncology-focused biotechnology companies, including Founder, Director, President and CEO of Xcyte Therapies, Inc. (which merged with Cyclacel), and Founder, Director, Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer for CellPro, Inc. (CellPro). At CellPro, he was responsible for regulatory submissions that resulted in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of CellPro's lead product, which was the first FDA-approved biological product in cell therapy. Since 2001, he has been on the Board of Ambassadors of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Dr. Berenson also has contributed to over 90 publications and holds 10 US patents. He completed his oncology training at Stanford University Medical Center, M.D. from Yale Medical School and obtained his B.S. from Stanford University.

"There are more than 100 therapeutic proteins on the market, and they represent one of the fastest growing classes of drugs today. Patient convenience and compliance continue to be issues with therapeutic proteins due to the need for frequent injections," said Dr. Berenson. "I believe that Aequus's novel approach could address these challenges with the potential to be applied to a wide spectrum of therapeutics."

In May 2012, Aequus reported proof of concept data on AQB-101, its novel hG-CSF-based therapeutic protein candidate that utilizes the GlycoPolymer technology approach. The AQB-101 glycoprotein possesses a plasma half-life that is comparable to PEGylated hG-CSF (Neulasta®), and significantly prolonged compared to the native form of hG-CSF (Neupogen®). 

About GlycoPolymer Technology

Aequus' modular GlycoPolymer technology represents a platform for efficiently creating "glycoengineered" protein-based biotherapeutics. Many protein biotherapeutics are on the market, but suffer from short half-lives, and thus require very frequent injections. By increasing the half-life of proteins, Aequus' technology offers the potential to create longer acting therapeutics, which can be administered much less frequently. This is expected to improve patient convenience and thus compliance leading to improved efficacy and clinical outcomes. The technology genetically ligates an external amino acid domain to a therapeutic protein or peptide candidate that results in additional N-linked glycosylation sites on the therapeutic. Additional N-linked glycan chains increase the plasma half-life and thus its duration of activity. The modular GlycoPolymer technology provides a more technically straightforward and predictable approach to extend the plasma half-life of a protein compared to the previous approaches designed to engineer novel glycosylation sites into proteins.

About Aequus BioPharma, Inc.

Headquartered on Bainbridge Island, WA, Aequus is a biopharmaceutical company committed to streamlining the development and manufacture of novel and "follow-on" therapeutic protein drugs.  Aequus is a majority owned subsidiary of Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (CTI) (NASDAQ and MTA: CTIC).

This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, the outcome of which could materially and/or adversely affect actual future results. Specifically, the risks and uncertainties that could affect the development of Aequus' modular GlycoPolymer technology (including, without limitation, the drug candidate AQB-101) include risks associated with preclinical and clinical developments in the biopharmaceutical industry in general and with glycoengineered protein-based biotherapies (including, without limitation, AQB-101), in particular including, without limitation, that Aequus application of modular GlycoPolymer technology to biologically active proteins and peptides may not facilitate the development of therapeutic protein-based drugs that require less frequent dosing and offer improved patient convenience; that AQB-101 may not demonstrate the utility of the GlycoPolymer technology platform; determinations by regulatory, patent and administrative governmental authorities; CTI's and Aequus ability to continue to raise capital as needed to fund their operations; competitive factors; technological developments; costs of developing, producing and selling Aequus product candidates; and the risk factors listed or described from time to time in CTI's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including, without limitation, CTI's most recent filings on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K. Except as may be required by law, Aequus and CTI do not intend to update or alter such forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.


Ronald Berenson, M.D.
[email protected]

SOURCE Aequus BioPharma, Inc.

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