COPIAGUE, N.Y., Feb. 3 -- American Biogenetic Sciences, Inc. (ABS) (Nasdaq: MABXA - news) has achieved an important intellectual property milestone in Japan, bolstering the company's campaign to reach a licensing agreement for its flagship neuroscience compound, ABS-103. ABS has received formal notice from Japanese patent authorities that the claims in its patent application ``Valproic acid analogues as anti-epileptic agents'' have been allowed. In Japan, a notice of allowance is the final step before the issuance of a patent. ABS has now secured a strong intellectual property portfolio for ABS-103 in the world's three largest markets, the United States, Europe and Japan. The company intends, with marketing partners, to develop ABS-103 for the treatment of epilepsy, mania and the prevention of migraine.
``We believe that ABS-103 is one of the most promising neuroscience drugs in development today,'' said John S. North, President and CEO of ABS. ``As a result, we have been careful to secure our intellectual property situation in all jurisdictions. This notice of allowance is extremely gratifying, particularly since it can sometimes be difficult to gain patents in the Japanese market. This is another key step towards a licensing agreement for ABS-103.''
ABS-103 Takes Aim at a Billion Dollar Annual Market
ABS-103 is a next-generation version of valproic acid, one of the most widely-used neurology drugs currently available. Valproic acid is sold in North America by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT - news) and in Europe by Sanofi and generates annual worldwide sales in excess of $1 billion. Valproic acid is used to prevent epileptic seizures, to control the mania associated with manic depressive illness, and is one of the few medicines indicated for the prevention of migraine headaches. However, the use of valproic acid is severely restricted, because its side-effects can include birth defects, liver toxicity, sedation and weight gain. ABS-103 is similar in chemical structure to valproic acid, but has been specifically engineered to have a better side- effect and safety profile than the older compound.
Mr. North, who last November joined ABS after nearly 30 years with Eli Lilly, noted that interest in ABS-103 among potential licensing partners is strong, even though the drug candidate is only now completing its preclinical evaluation. ``The interest in the compound is driven by two factors. First, because of its similarity to valproic acid, ABS-103's chemical structure and anticipated pharmacological activity are better understood than that of a completely novel chemical entity. Second, much of the future market for ABS- 103 has already been developed, again because of valproic acid. Our expectation is that, assuming clinical results validate preclinical research to date, ABS-103 could potentially surpass the total annual revenues for valproic acid.''
American Biogenetic Sciences, based in Copiague, New York, researches and develops diagnostic tests for cardiac conditions and infectious diseases, as well as new treatments for neurological disorders including epilepsy, migraine, mania, Parkinsons and Alzheimer's disease. ABS also seeks out new technologies and conducts research and development throughout its Global Scientific Network, in the U.S., Europe, Israel, Russia and China.
Statements in this release that are not strictly historical are ``forward- looking'' statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and should be considered as subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. For further details and a discussion of these risks and uncertainties, see the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including its annual report on Form 10-K.