Institute for the Study of Aging Funds Helicon Therapeutics to Test New Treatments for Dementia-Researchers Look at Unique Role of Protein in Memory Function

PR Newswire

September 26, 2001

NEW YORK, Sep 26, 2001 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Institute for the Study of Aging (ISOA) today announced that it is providing grant funding of $238,780 to Helicon Therapeutics to study novel memory enhancing drugs in a number of animal models of memory. The drugs work by activating a brain protein called CREB (cyclic adenosine monophosphate -- or cAMP -- response element binding protein) that plays an important role in the formation of new memories. Drugs that enhance CREB have been shown to improve learning and memory in animals.

"We're excited by this novel approach to improving memory. CREB drugs show promise and may offer a new treatment approach for memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease and other disorders," said Howard Fillit, M.D., Executive Director of ISOA.

Helicon has identified and licensed a number of CREB-activating compounds. Helicon plans to use the funds provided by ISOA to evaluate the compounds in an animal model of memory. The lead compounds will be selected for further investigation and possible clinical development.

"The advantage of these CREB-based drugs is a significant reduction in the amount of time and trials needed to commit new learning to long-term memory," stated Tim Tully, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Helicon Therapeutics. "We believe that CREB drugs will be useful not only in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other disorders, but also in improving memory consolidation in normal aging individuals."

Helicon Therapeutics, Inc. is a pioneer in the development of therapies for memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Helicon, based in Farmingdale, New York, was originally formed in 1997 as a joint venture between OSI Pharmaceuticals of Uniondale, New York, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, and Hoffman LaRoche of Basel, Switzerland. Helicon has developed technologies that identify genes involved in memory formation, and is involved in the evaluation and development of drugs that influence those genes that enhance memory and cognitive function.

The Institute for the Study of Aging (ISOA) is a venture philanthropy whose mission is to catalyze and fund the discovery and development of new therapies to prevent and treat cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease. Since 1998, the ISOA has committed more than $15 million in support of 45 global drug discovery and drug development projects at leading academic institutions and biotechnology companies. ISOA is a New York-based private nonprofit foundation funded by the Estee Lauder Trust. Mrs. Estee Lauder is the Founder and Honorary Director of the ISOA, with Leonard A. Lauder and Ronald S. Lauder as Co-Presidents.

SOURCE Institute for the Study of Aging

CONTACT: Howard Fillit, M.D., Executive Director of Institute for the Study of Aging, +1-212-572-4086,; or Barbara Littman, Administrative Officer of Helicon Therapeutics, Inc., +1-631-370-8818,