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AVEO Pharmaceuticals Granted Patent for Predictive Biomarker Used to Identify Human Tumors Likely to Respond to Notch Pathway Inhibition

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Discovery of HeyL Gene Expression as Biomarker Marks Critical Step in Developing Targeted Therapeutics to Inhibit Notch Pathway

Cambridge, MA -- AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company leveraging breakthrough discoveries in cancer biology to discover, develop and commercialize targeted oncology therapies, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted to AVEO U.S. Patent No. 7,544,476. This patent covers the use of the expression level of a single gene, HeyL, as a predictive biomarker to identify human tumors that are likely to respond to treatment with inhibitors of the Notch pathway, thus adding to the intellectual property surrounding AVEO’s proprietary and translational biology platform.

"The discovery of HeyL as a biomarker of sensitivity to Notch pathway inhibitors will greatly facilitate AVEO’s program to develop monoclonal antibodies targeting the Notch pathway in cancer," said Tuan Ha-Ngoc, president and chief executive officer of AVEO Pharmaceuticals. "The development of improved diagnostics based on the discovery of biomarkers has the potential to accelerate new drug development by identifying, in advance, responsive patients, thus realizing the vision of the company."

About the Notch Pathway

The Notch pathway is widely recognized as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of certain cancers, and is a key regulator of angiogenesis and cancer stem cells. However, the complexity of Notch biology makes the effect of Notch inhibition in any given tumor very difficult to predict. Therefore, the identification of a predictive biomarker is a critical step in the development of any therapeutic agent targeting Notch signaling in cancer.

To this end, AVEO researchers have identified key differences in expression of Notch pathway target genes between human cancer cell lines that were either sensitive or resistant to small molecule and biologic inhibitors of the Notch pathway. AVEO discovered that the expression of a single gene, known as HeyL, was predictive of sensitivity of human cancer cell lines to Notch pathway inhibition. Moreover, HeyL expression similarly correlated with Notch-dependence in vivo in a mouse model of cancer.

About AVEO

AVEO is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel, targeted cancer therapeutics. AVEO’s proprietary, integrated cancer biology platform enables the company to pursue highly efficient drug development strategies in oncology that increase the probability of clinical success and provides a discovery engine for high-value targets and therapies. This approach has resulted in a balanced pipeline of novel cancer therapies focused on well-validated targets (VEGFR, EGFR) and promising novel targets (HGF, FGFR, ErbB3 and NOTCH), as well as collaborations with Eli Lilly, Merck, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Schering-Plough and Biogen Idec. The company’s lead product, tivozanib (AV-951), a triple VEGF receptor inhibitor, recently completed Phase 2 clinical development in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer and is expected to enter Phase 3 development in 2009. Through a combination of internal drug discovery and selective in-licensing of targeted therapeutics, AVEO is building a diversified product pipeline and moving toward its vision of becoming a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company. For more information, please visit the company's website at

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