The National Cancer Institute's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has awarded Lpath (OTCBB/exchange>: LPTN), the category leader in lipidomics-based therapeutics, two Phase 1 grants totaling $0.3 million. This follows a series of other SBIR grants awarded to Lpath totaling $6.9 million, including a $3.0 million Phase 2 bridge grant from the NCI awarded this past June.
"The sustained financial support from the National Institutes of Health SBIR program has significantly helped advance Lpath's first-in-class antibody therapeutics through various phases of preclinical and clinical development," noted Dr. Roger Sabbadini, Lpath's founder and chief scientific officer. "We believe the numerous grants awarded to Lpath validate the potential medical value of our unique technology."
One of the new SBIR grants will partially fund Lpath's drug discovery efforts with Lpathomab™, a monoclonal antibody directed against lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), a bioactive lipid that has been validated as a disease target in cancer, neuropathic pain and fibrosis.
The other SBIR grant will fund X-ray crystallography and other structural work on Lpathomab and other anti-bioactive lipids that Lpath has developed, including sonepcizumab, a humanized mAb that neutralizes S1P (sphingosine-1-phosphate). The systemic formulation of sonepcizumab, called ASONEP™, is nearing completion of a Phase 1 clinical trial in cancer patients, while the ocular formulation, iSONEP™, has recently completed a Phase I clinical trial in wet-AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) patients.
Lpath scientists, in collaboration with Tom Huxford, Ph.D. and colleagues at San Diego State University's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled, "The Crystal Structure of Sphingosine-1-phosphate in Complex with a Fab Fragment Reveals Metal Bridging of an Antibody and its Antigen." The paper describes how Lpath's sonepcizumab interacts with its target, S1P, in a highly specific manner. Lpath scientist, Jon Wojciak, Ph.D., is first author of the paper.
The abstract and full paper are available online via the PNAS web site at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/14/0906153106.abstract
Scott Pancoast, Lpath's president and CEO, commented, "This publication in the PNAS journal represents a milestone event for Lpath, as it is the first ever published structural description of how an antibody binds with a bioactive-lipid target. We believe this will help to raise the awareness of the emerging field of lipidomics-based therapeutics and to stimulate more research of its potential in the treatment of cancer and other major diseases."