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Amakem Secures €1.4M Grant to Apply its Localized Drug Action Technology in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)

DIEPENBEEK, Belgium, January 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Amakem NV, a kinase platform company focusing on ophthalmology, today announces it has secured a €1.4M grant from the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT), to apply its Localized Drug Action technology to the discovery and development of novel kinase inhibitor-based therapies for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).

IBD is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract associated with considerable morbidity and significantly affecting patients' quality of life. It primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Despite the impact of the disease, currently no disease modifying drugs are available for IBD patients. There remains a clear need for new treatments, in particular safe and efficient therapeutics that aim to control the disease and increase the remission period.

Amakem has identified locally active lead molecules acting on a number of kinases which play a role in the pathology of IBD. The IWT grant will be directed to the further  development of safe therapeutics that offer the potential to impact a range of  factors of the disease including impaired barrier function, inflammation, fibrosis and angiogenesis but without causing systemic side effects. The goal is for Amakem to develop candidates with in vivo proof of concept in appropriate models of IBD as well as to obtain clear indications for the disease modifying properties of these molecules.

Dr. Jack Elands, CEO of Amakem, said: "This grant from the IWT again recognizes the wide potential of our Localized Drug Action technology to generate highly novel and potentially valuable new drugs across a range of indications. Our core focus remains ophthalmology, with our lead product, AMA0076, progressing through its Phase 2a clinical trial in glaucoma and ocular hypertension. However, this non-dilutive funding provides the resources to generate further value from our platform which, outside ophthalmology, has also delivered proof of concept in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma."

Dr. Dirk Leysen, CSO and Founder of Amakem and one of the inventors of the company's core technology, added: "When we first founded Amakem we believed the Localized Drug Action platform provided an opportunity to harness the therapeutic power of kinase inhibition while minimizing the impact on non-target tissues and organs. With kinases being implicated in a broad range of diseases, but also present throughout the body, localized activity is potentially hugely important.  It is very gratifying to see another program underway as well as the tremendous progress we have already demonstrated in our core ophthalmology indication."

About Amakem

Amakem is an ophthalmology company developing new treatments for serious eye conditions. Amakem's product pipeline is based on its unique Localized Drug Action platform which is designed to generate safe and effective novel kinase inhibitors that minimize systemic exposure with the aim of reducing side effects. Amakem's lead candidate, AMA0076, is for glaucoma and the Company is working to apply the Localized Drug Action approach to a range of other eye diseases. AMA0076 is currently undergoing Phase 2a proof of concept trials.

Founded in 2010, Amakem has raised more than €21m in funding and is backed by leading life sciences investors including Forbion, Crédit Agricole, Vesalius BioCapital, LRM, PMV/Vinnof and Life Science Research Partners.

Amakem is based in Belgium and located in the life sciences incubator "BioVille" at the University of Hasselt. The Company has a long-standing collaboration with the Ophthalmology Research Center of the University Leuven Hospital.

About Localized Drug Action

Amakem's 'Localized Drug Action' platform is designed to generate novel kinase inhibitor drugs which are contained locally and thus reduce or eliminate side effects. Kinases are crucial mediators of important disease pathways representing more than 22% of the drugable genome. However, kinases are present throughout the body and so there is a significant risk of toxicity due to on target effects in non-target organs and tissues if there is systemic exposure. This risk is acceptable in oncology indications, but not in others thus substantially reducing the potential of drugs targeting this class.

Amakem's kinase inhibitors are designed to be rapidly inactivated outside the target organ. In indications that can be treated by topical administration, it is therefore possible to contain the drug locally as it becomes inactive before it can reach other organs or tissues if it leaks out of the target organ.

Localized Drug Action is based on the inactivation of kinase inhibitors outside the target organ, e.g. in the bloodstream by specifically targeted enzymes. Each of Amakem's kinase inhibitors brings together kinase specificity and enzymatic conversion specificity. When the drug candidate leaves the target organ it is converted to a functionally inactive metabolite. This inactive metabolite is then eliminated from the body.

For more information, please contact

Amakem NV
Jack Elands, CEO
[email protected]

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Chris Gardner / Nina Enegren
[email protected] / [email protected]

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