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Cognetix Acquires Viatech Imaging to Expand Drug Discovery Capabilities Drs. Ann Cornell-Bell and Leslie Riblet Join Cognetix Discovery Team

Awardee Story Cognetix Acquires Viatech Imaging to Expand Drug Discovery Capabilities Drs. Ann Cornell-Bell and Leslie Riblet Join Cognetix Discovery Team
Date: Jul 17, 1998

Source: PR Newswire ( click here to go to the source)

SALT LAKE CITY, July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Cognetix, Inc. announced today that it has acquired Viatech Imaging, LLC, to expand its drug discovery capabilities and accelerate its program to identify and characterize novel bioactive compounds from Conus sea snails and other marine organisms for treating nervous system and other disorders. Viatech is an operating contract research laboratory that conducts high-throughput functional screening with advanced systems for cell-based assays. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Viatech's two senior scientists will join Cognetix in conjunction with the acquisition. Ann Cornell-Bell, Ph.D., formerly of Yale University School of Medicine and a pioneer in the use of confocal microscopy for cell imaging, assumes the post of Director of Drug Discovery. Leslie Riblet, Ph.D., who played key roles in central nervous system drug discovery and development at Bristol-Myers Squibb, joins the Company as Director of Drug Development.

"By greatly enhancing our screening capabilities, the Viatech acquisition will allow us to rapidly expand our pipeline of candidate leads, augmenting our internal discovery and development programs as well as creating additional opportunities for corporate partnerships," said Davis L. Temple, Jr., Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cognetix. "We have alreadyestablished a library of more than 130 fully-characterized, proprietary compounds from Conus snails, called conopeptides, which exhibit exquisite specificity and high potency and have potential utility in a broad range of therapeutic areas. With this acquisition, we can now accelerate expansion of this library by efficiently tapping into the estimated 50,000 distinct conopeptides and pursuing additional bioactive compounds from other marine organisms."

Dr. Temple added that Cognetix is focusing its internal development efforts on select conopeptides for central nervous system disorders, including epilepsy, pain and Parkinson's disease, and expects to initiate clinical trials in epilepsy in 1999.

The Viatech acquisition provides Cognetix with a fully operational cell biology laboratory for rapid screening and functional characterization of newly discovered conopeptides and other bioactive compounds. Specifically, Viatech uses high-throughput, quantitative fluorimetry techniques and scanning laser confocal microscopy with live cell assays (both laboratory animal and human) to analyze potential new drug candidates. Cognetix plans to maintain operations of the Viatech laboratory in its existing facility in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Ann Cornell-Bell, Ph.D., served for 10 years in various senior positions as a faculty member in the Departments of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the Yale University School of Medicine prior to her most recent position as President and Chief Scientific Officer at Viatech. She is a pioneer in the use of confocal microscopy for cell imaging, with demonstrated expertise in quantifying physiologic processes in live cells, including those of the central nervous system.

Leslie Riblet, Ph.D., former Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Viatech, has extensive experience in both drug discovery and drug development from Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he served as Vice President, Research Operations and Vice President, CNS Biology. At Bristol-Myers, Dr. Riblet was instrumental in the development and regulatory approval of numerous drugs that reached the market, including Desyrel(R), Stadol NS(R), BuSpar(R) and Serzone(R).

Cognetix discovers and develops novel therapeutics based on highly specific bioactive compounds from Conus snails and other marine organisms. Established to commercialize the research of Dr. Baldomero Olivera and colleagues at the University of Utah and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Company is developing conopeptide compounds to treat a broad range of diseases, initially focusing on central nervous system disorders.

The Company has an extensive portfolio of composition of matter and use patents and patent applications covering its conopeptide technology, including an exclusive license from the University of Utah and The Salk Institute. Cognetix is a privately held biotechnology company based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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