Maret Corporation is developing novel pharmaceuticals for therapeutic cell growth focusing on hematopoiesis (stimulation of blood cells and platelets). Therapeutic targets are cancer, immune system recovery and end stage renal disease (ESRD). The use of hematopoietic factors in these areas generated over $6 billion in worldwide revenues in 2000. The Company’s products in development are based on the activities of a family of small peptides related to the naturally occurring hormone Angiotensin. Historically, Angiotensin has been known to regulate blood pressure. Based on work by Dr. Gere diZerega and others, it is now also known to play an important role in the control of cell and tissue growth.
The Company was formed in 1994 by Gere S. diZerega, M.D., Professor and surgeon at the University of Southern California (USC), based upon pioneering scientific work on the activity of Angiotensin. The founding venture capital investors are Columbine and InnoCal. Additional venture funding has been obtained from New York Life and Valley Ventures.
Maret is currently managed to focus on clinical development, under the leadership of Leonard R. Borrmann, Pharm.D., President and Chief Executive Officer. Jamie Oliver, Pharm.D., Vice President of Clinical Development is responsible for clinical operations. USC provides the Company’s discovery research where Gere diZerega, MD provides continued research and development activities. Most clinical functions are outsourced using an experienced core team to oversee the strategic and operational activities. Over the long term, a fully integrated sales and marketing team will be added as products achieve marketing approval.
Dr. Borrmann joined Maret Pharmaceuticals in December 2000 after serving as Chief Executive Officer of Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held drug discovery company. During his tenure at Acadia, he built strong relationships with the investment community in the U.S., Europe and Asia building a strong capital position with successful add-on financing. He also was successful in establishing outside scientific and commercial collaborations in the U.S., Europe and Japan while advancing clinical development and expansion of the company’s internal drug discovery programs. Prior to Acadia, Dr. Borrmann served as Vice President, Business Development of Allergan, Inc. In addition to his worldwide business development, his 14-year career at Allergan included positions in clinical research and marketing.
Initial Markets and Opportunity
Maret is developing small peptide analogs as therapeutic hematopoietic factors to address a variety of medical conditions characterized by an inadequate supply of critical blood cells. These conditions include the cancer treatment effects of radiation and chemotherapy, severe infection, anemia due to renal failure, immune function and platelet disorders. The Company has demonstrated that these peptides are potent hematopoietic factors that stimulate production of blood cell lineages, such as white cells and platelet progenitors. The potential advantages of the Maret peptide are:
- Ability to increase populations of all major blood cell types including:
- White blood cells
- Red blood cells
- Multi-cycle potential in cancer therapy
- Regulated as drugs, not biologics
- Low cost
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed two Investigational New Drug Applications (IND). Maret has completed a Phase I/II trial for its lead peptide, MARstem™, in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and has a phase II trial underway to assess its effect on anemia in ESRD patients. In addition, the Company is in advanced planning stages for conducting a pancytopenia trial in cancer patients.
The early results of the phase I/II trial in breast cancer chemotherapy patients were presented at the International Symposium on New Drugs in Cancer Therapy in Amsterdam on November 10, 2000 (see Press Releases).
A large worldwide market for hematopoietic factors already exists through blockbuster products such as EPOGEN® and NEUPOGEN®. The worldwide market for EPO alone is expected to exceed $9 billion by 2005. Maret’s preclinical data dealing with the side effects of cancer therapy (radiation and chemotherapy) suggests that the Company may have a strong competitive position in the hematopoietic market.