The Marker, April 14, 2003
Compugen sequences variant protein involved in blood vessel development

Compugen (NASDAQ: CGEN) today announced that it has sequenced and received a U.S. patent on a variant kind of protein, called VEGF114, which is involved in angiogenesis - the formation of blood vessels.

The variant protein is encoded by part of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene.

Compugen has been granted a United States patent for the sequence of this novel VEGF variant. The patent also covers vectors and host cells containing VEGF114 sequences, and drugs and detection methods developed using VEGF114 sequences, the company.

Compugen has granted to the Israeli company MultiGene Vascular Systems (MGVS) a nonexclusive license to develop and commercialize gene and cell therapy products incorporating VEGF114, for use in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

MGVS's goal is to develop cell therapies using the VEGF114 and other proteins.

In exchange for the license, Compugen will receive an equity stake in MGVS and royalties on any future product sales. It did not disclose further details.

VEGF114 is encoded by an alternative mRNA splice variant of the VEGF gene. Measuring 114 amino acids long, is the shortest variant of this gene discovered to date, Compugen said.

As VEGF proteins are growth factors playing an important role in angiogenesis, modulating the gene's activity may have clinical applications in cancer, cardiovascular and related diseases, and fertility control.

Although the VEGF gene has been the subject of extensive worldwide research, and patents have been granted for previously known variants, the existence of this splice variant was unknown.
"Our discovery of VEGF114 and the receipt of a patent for this novel protein are further validations of our ability to discover new meaningful biological information through our unique multidisciplinary approach.

"Like our previously announced finding of novel prostate-specific proteins encoded by the PSA gene, this VEGF splice variant would also have been extremely difficult to discover solely through experimentation," commented Kinneret Savitsky, VP Experimental Biology at Compugen.

MultiGene Vascular Systems (MGVS), located in Haifa, Israel, is developing cell therapies, based on using the patient's own cells, for vascular-related disorders. MGVS has three products in its pipeline, all based on the same technology platform.

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