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University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2005

UI To Earn $6.75 Million From Cancer Technology Partnership

The University of Iowa is expected to earn about $6.75 million as a result of a deal announced today by Pfizer and Coley Pharmaceutical Group. Under the agreement, Pfizer will develop, manufacture and commercialize ProMune, a cancer treatment developed by Coley in part by technology provided by the UI.

The treatment uses CpG oligonucleotides to boost the body's immune system response to certain lung cancers and possibly other cancers. Coley, based in Wellesley, Mass., is a firm that employs UI biomedical technology in its drug discovery efforts; Arthur Krieg, M.D., chief scientific officer at Coley and on leave from his post as professor of internal medicine at the UI, is the initial inventor of the treatment. George Weiner, M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, and his colleagues also participated in developing ProMune as a potential treatment for cancer. A sizeable portfolio of CpG patents covering both the composition of the materials and a range of therapeutic uses has been licensed to Coley by the UI Research Foundation (UIRF).

As announced today by Pfizer and Coley, and under the terms of the

Pfizer/Coley agreement, which is subject to government approval, Pfizer will make an initial payment of $50 million to Coley. UI, in turn, will receive about $6.75 million, according to Bruce Wheaton, executive director of the UIRF.

The UI could earn more over time; Pfizer and Coley have stated a potential for up to $455 million in additional milestone payments, plus royalties based on the successful development and commercialization of ProMune.

Wheaton said the UIRF will get a negotiated percentage of these payments, but said it would be premature to speculate on any specific amounts at this time. "The first order of business is to make sick people better. If the products meet this principle objective safely, we'll earn more. More is possible, but not guaranteed," he said.

"Work in our laboratories and clinics, and from colleagues around the world, suggests ProMune may be a very useful component of treatment for cancer using a variety of approaches," Weiner said. "We still have much research to do both in the laboratory and the clinic, but we are very excited that the new partnership with Coley and Pfizer will provide additional resources that will enhance our ability to translate the promise of this research into better cancer treatments for our patients."

Planned Phase III clinical trials by Pfizer will involve treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Treatments for other types of tumors also may be explored.

Several groups across the UI campus will benefit from the Coley/Pfizer agreement, Wheaton explained, including the revenue shares distributed to individual inventors and their academic units, plus an institution-wide research enrichment fund administered at the discretion of the UI Vice President for Research. The UIRF will also receive a share of these funds to fund its continued operations.

For additional information, see Coley's announcement on the agreement at:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One,  Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: George McCrory, University of Iowa News Services, 319-384-0012,; David Pedersen, Health Science Relations, 319-335-8032,

PROGRAM CONTACTS: Bruce Wheaton, UI Research Foundation, 319-335-4063; George Weiner, Holden Cancer Center, 319-353-8620