Press Release Details

Cerus Corporation Acquires Rights to Cancer Antigen and Receives Phase I SBIR Grant

January, 28 2004

Business Editors/Health/Medical Writers

CONCORD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 28, 2004

Cerus Corporation (Nasdaq:CERS) today announced that it has acquired certain exclusive rights to a novel cancer antigen, Mesothelin, from The Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Cerus is using Mesothelin in combination with its proprietary cancer vaccine platform to develop therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

"We are pleased to enter into this agreement with The Johns Hopkins University, and are excited to acquire an antigen that is expressed so prevalently in a variety of cancers," said David N. Cook, Ph.D., vice president of research and development, Cerus Corporation. "Through this agreement, we are enhancing our technology portfolio to complement our cancer vaccine program, strengthening our pipeline of therapeutics."

Mesothelin is an antigen that is expressed in the vast majority of primary pancreatic and ovarian malignancies, but has limited expression in normal tissue. Research conducted by Elizabeth Jaffee, M.D., professor of oncology, immunology and cell and molecular medicine at JHU, has demonstrated that pancreatic cancer patients who responded to a Mesothelin-based prototype vaccine generated an immune response against the antigen. Cerus is developing a therapeutic vaccine that is designed to use Mesothelin in combination with its proprietary Listeria vaccine platform to potentially stimulate the patient's immune system to selectively recognize and kill pancreatic and ovarian tumor cells that express the Mesothelin cancer antigen.

Terms of the agreement include an up-front payment to The Johns Hopkins University and future product royalties and payments based on sublicensing agreements and product approval. The company also plans to work collaboratively with Dr. Jaffee on future Mesothelin research.

Cerus also announced it received a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant related to its research with Mesothelin.

Thomas W. Dubensky, Ph.D., vice president of research, Cerus Corporation, added, "The SBIR grant provides additional financial support which will help cover costs associated with moving our pipeline technology into clinical trials."


Cerus is developing a proprietary, versatile technology to stimulate the immune system to target and attack pathogenic cells. This platform technology is based on specially engineered strains of the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Cerus scientists have demonstrated that proprietary strains of Listeria are capable of inducing potent immune responses in laboratory tests. The combination of proprietary strains of Listeria with specific cancer antigens, such as Mesothelin, has the potential to harness the power of the immune system to selectively attack malignant cells. Additionally, Cerus is further developing its Listeria platform technology by combining it with its Helinx(R) technology to develop potentially safe and potent therapies and vaccines for infectious disease.


Cerus Corporation is developing medical systems and therapeutics to provide safer and more effective options to patients. The company is developing products based on its proprietary Helinx(R) technology for controlling biological replication. Cerus' most advanced programs are focused on systems to enhance the safety of the world's blood supply. The INTERCEPT Blood System, which is being developed in collaboration with subsidiaries of Baxter International Inc., is based on the company's Helinx technology. The INTERCEPT Blood System is designed to inactivate viruses, bacteria, other pathogens, and white blood cells. The Concord, California-based company also is pursuing therapeutic applications of Helinx technology to treat and prevent serious diseases.

Helinx is a trademark of Cerus Corporation

INTERCEPT and INTERCEPT Blood are trademarks of Baxter International Inc.

Statements in this news release regarding product development, potential efficacy of cancer therapeutics and therapies for infectious diseases, potential efficacy of the INTERCEPT Blood System are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from the above forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors, including the risks and uncertainty of the timing and results of clinical trials and other development activities, actions by regulatory authorities at any stage of the development and commercialization process, additional financing activities, manufacturing, market acceptance of any products, competitive conditions, long term growth opportunity of Cerus and other factors discussed in the company's most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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