November 3, 2008
Enzo Biochem Details Advances in Understanding the Role Of NKT Killer Cells in Autoimmunity and Cancer at Liver Conference
Enzo Biochem, Inc. (NYSE:ENZ) reported today that recent work supported by Enzo will be presented at the Liver Conference(R), sponsored by the American Society for the Study of Liver Diseases (ASSLD), detailing research advances in understanding Natural Killer cells (NKT cells)
-- lymphocytes that play a major role in immune surveillance and are involved in important processes such as autoimmunity and cancer.
The research presented focuses on the following key areas involving NKT cells:
-- Understanding the molecular basis for the action of glycosylceramides (GC) and the identification of novel GC molecules for fine tuning NKT-dependent immune regulation.
-- Investigation of GC's in connection with fat accumulation in the liver, known as hepatic steatosis, or NASH, a silent liver killer disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. NASH is one stage in a disease spectrum that ranges from fatty liver to steatohepatitis, advanced fibrosis, and end-stage cirrhosis. Today NASH has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 8.6 million obese adult Americans having the disease and another 30.1 million possibly having the milder form of fatty liver.
-- Recent work indicating that GC's improved steatohepatitis in an animal model of NASH by significantly reducing fat accumulation and the inflammatory cascade. In addition, GC's significantly improved insulin tolerance in this animal model.
-- The present data showing that GC's are capable of modulating immune responses. The differential role of NKT cell sub-populations in the context of establishing immune tolerance is an important tool that can be utilized to tame autoimmune disorders and the inflammatory cascade.
-- The identification of potential biomarkers that may lead to better monitoring of NASH.
Enzo Therapeutics has long been involved in the development of molecules that can influence NKT cells and their effect on modulation of the immune response. In particular, the Company's scientists, including a team led by Yaron Ilan, M.D., head of the Gastroenterology and Liver Units at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Center, in Jerusalem, Israel, have concluded that GC's can be effective "rectifiers" of deranged immune conditions, such as autoimmune colitis and hepatocarcinoma.
NKT cells are a heterogeneous group of T cells that share properties of both T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. They have the unique ability to recognize and respond to lipids and glycolipids, and to produce large amounts of diverse cytokines that can modulate the immune system to cell-mediated or antibody-mediated responses.
"This research may be important going forward in helping to achieve greater understanding of the role of NKT killer cells, their makeup and their ability to impact fresh approaches in the development of novel treatments for a host of serious and debilitating diseases," said Christine Fischette, Ph.D., President of Enzo Therapeutics. "The valuable results that have flowed from it potentially could strengthen our existing glycolipids-NKT platforms."
Enzo Biochem is engaged in the research, development, manufacture and licensing of innovative health care products and technologies based on molecular biology and genetic engineering techniques, and in providing diagnostic services to the medical community. Enzo's Life Sciences division develops, produces and markets proprietary labeling and detection products for gene sequencing, genetic analysis and immunological research among others. Its catalog of over 25,000 products serves the molecular biology, drug discovery and pathology research markets. The Company's therapeutic division is in various stages of clinical evaluation of its proprietary immune regulation medicines for uveitis, Crohn's Disease, and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), and its proprietary gene medicine for HIV-1 infection and conducts pre-clinical research on several candidate compounds aimed at producing new mineral and organic bone, including technology that could provide therapy for osteoporosis and fractures, among other applications. Enzo's Clinical Labs division provides routine and esoteric reference laboratory services for physicians in the New York Metropolitan and New Jersey areas. Underpinning the Company's technology and operations is an extensive intellectual property estate in which Enzo owns or licenses over 230 patents worldwide, and has pending applications for over 200 more. For more information visit our website www.enzo.com.
Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this news release may be considered "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such statements include declarations regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of the Company and its management. Investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could materially affect actual results. The Company disclaims any obligations to update any forward-looking statement as a result of developments occurring after the date of this press release.