Meridian to Manufacture and Distribute Chagas' Disease Proteins Under License Agreement with Corixa Corporation
CINCINNATI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 21, 2003--Meridian Bioscience, Inc., (Nasdaq:VIVO) today announced that it will begin production of recombinant Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas' disease) antigen under a license agreement with Corixa Corporation (Nasdaq:CRXA) in its life science production laboratories located at Viral Antigens, Inc., Memphis, TN (VAI), a wholly owned subsidiary. The unique recombinant polyvalent antigen, known as TcF, will be marketed to diagnostic test manufacturers for use in production of test kits for blood bank screening and other diagnostic applications.
T. cruzi causes Chagas' disease, a chronic infection that primarily affects the nervous system and heart, causing severe neurological disorders, as well as swelling or denervation of nervous tissue in the heart, colon and esophagus. The organism can circulate in the blood for many years after infection, and can lead to transfusion-acquired infection if blood from an infected donor is transfused into a recipient.
Chagas' disease often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are also associated with heart disease and a variety of other disorders. In about one-third of acute cases, a chronic form of the disease develops some 10 - 20 years later, causing irreversible damage to the heart, esophagus and colon. Patients with severe Chagas' disease become progressively more ill and ultimately die, usually from heart failure. According to the World Health Organization, Chagas' disease is endemic in 21 countries, with 16 to 18 million people infected and 100 million more at risk. Contaminated blood transfusions are suspected to be the primary way in which the parasite has been transmitted to industrialized countries.
Richard Eberly, General Manager, Meridian Life Science commented, "We are delighted that VAI's original research and development agreement with Corixa has now resulted in a strategic partnership to make this important antigen available for commercialization partners. We are pleased that VAI will now make this antigen available to manufacturers worldwide for incorporation into test kits to improve the safety of the blood supply."
David Persing, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President of Discovery Research at Corixa, said recently "In studies to date, the TcF recombinant antigen has been able to detect specific antibodies in nearly all patients infected with T. cruzi, and avoids many of the problems of false positivity and unreliability associated with older assays that used whole organisms for antibody detection. Testing for this antibody could be an important step toward protecting our nation's blood supply from this dangerous contaminant."
Corixa is a developer of immunotherapeutics with a commitment to treating and preventing autoimmune diseases, cancer and infectious diseases by understanding and directing the immune system. Corixa is focused on immunotherapeutic products and has a broad technology platform enabling both fully integrated vaccine design and the use of its separate, proprietary product components on a standalone basis. Corixa currently has multiple programs in clinical development, including several product candidates that have advanced to and through late stage clinical trials. Corixa partners with numerous developers and marketers of pharmaceuticals, targeting products that are Powered by Corixa(R) technology with the goal of making its potential products available to patients around the world. Corixa was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Seattle, with additional operations in Hamilton, Montana, and South San Francisco. For more information, please visit Corixa's Web site at www.corixa.com.
Meridian is a fully integrated life science company that manufactures, markets and distributes a broad range of innovative diagnostic test kits, purified reagents and related products and offers biopharmaceutical enabling technologies. Utilizing a variety of methods, these products provide accuracy, simplicity and speed in the early diagnosis and treatment of common medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal, viral, urinary and respiratory infections. All Meridian products are used outside of the human body and require little or no special equipment. The Company's products are designed to enhance patient well-being while reducing the total outcome costs of healthcare. Meridian has strong market positions in the areas of gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infections, serology, parasitology and fungal disease diagnosis. In addition, Meridian is a supplier of rare reagents and specialty biologicals. The Company markets its products to hospitals, reference laboratories, research centers, veterinary testing centers and physician offices in more than 60 countries around the world. The Company's shares are traded through Nasdaq's National Market, symbol VIVO. Meridian's website address is www.meridianbioscience.com.
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a safe harbor from civil litigation for forward looking statements accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements. Except for historical information, this report contains forward-looking statements which may be identified by words such as estimates, anticipates, projects, plans, expects, intends, believes, should and similar expressions and which also may be identified by their context. Such statements are based upon current expectations of the Company and speak only as of the date made. These statements are subject to various risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ, including, without limitation, the following.
Meridian's continued growth depends, in part, on its ability to introduce into the marketplace enhancements of existing products or new products that incorporate technological advances, meet customer requirements and respond to products developed by Meridian's competition. While Meridian has introduced a number of internally-developed products, there can be no assurance that it will be successful in the future in introducing such products on a timely basis. Ongoing consolidations of reference laboratories and formation of multi-hospital alliances may cause adverse changes to pricing and distribution. Costs and difficulties in complying with laws and regulations administered by the United States Food and Drug Administration can result in unanticipated expenses and delays and interruptions to the sale of new and existing products. Changes in the relative strength or weakness of the U.S. dollar can change expected results. One of Meridian's main growth strategies is the acquisition of companies and product lines. There can be no assurance that additional acquisitions will be consummated or that, if consummated, will be successful and the acquired businesses successfully integrated into Meridian's operations.
CONTACT: Meridian Bioscience, Inc. John A. Kraeutler, 513/271-3700
SOURCE: Meridian Bioscience, Inc.