Procter & Gamble donates proprietary "super aspirin" technology to Vanderbilt University

November 01, 2000

NASHVILLE, TN (November 2, 2000) - The next "super aspirin" may be among a collection of 196 patents and pending patents given today to Vanderbilt University by Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). P&G's proprietary COX-2 Inhibitor Technology shows promise in improving the safety of medications commonly taken for pain, inflammation, and fever reduction.

Along with the patents, P&G is donating all associated intellectual property. As the sole new owners of the technology, Vanderbilt will benefit from all future revenues after the technology is further developed, tested, and commercialized.

"We are pleased that Vanderbilt's international reputation in the area of eicosanoids (COX products) has been affirmed by this generous gift of intellectual property, and we are excited with the opportunity to develop it into something of clinical value," said Lee E. Limbird, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research.

Procter & Gamble's external consultants identified Vanderbilt as the university that is most uniquely qualified to further develop the COX-2 Inhibitor Technology due to their on-going leadership in COX-2 research. In addition, Vanderbilt's Office of Enterprise Development gives the framework for commercializing the technology.

"We're excited that Vanderbilt will continue to develop and test this significant technology, and that Vanderbilt will benefit both financially and academically from this donation," said P&G's Chief Technology Officer Gil Cloyd. "Best of all, we'll get to see this promising science furthered to improve peoples' lives - even if it will no longer be in P&G hands."

The gift of COX-2 Inhibitor Technology is the sixth in a series of Procter & Gamble technology donations to leading universities and research institutions.

About COX-2 inhibitor technology

COX-2 Inhibitor Technology compounds block the action of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and like other recently marketed COX-2 inhibitors, they could relieve pain and inflammation without the gastric side effects of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). What is different about P&G's COX-2 Inhibitor Technology is that it may also promote ulcer healing and even prevent the development of NSAID-induced ulcers, a relatively common side effect of the drugs.

Examples of NSAIDs currently available over-the-counter are Motrin, Aleve and Advil; prescriptions include Celebrex (Searle/Pfizer) and Vioxx (Merck).

"Currently marketed prescription NSAIDs slow the healing of ulcers that are already present. We'll be researching just how P&G's COX-2 Inhibitor Technology is working to promote - versus delay -- ulcer healing," said Dr. L. Jackson Roberts II, professor of Pharmacology and Medicine.

To develop the Procter & Gamble compound as a therapeutic drug, Vanderbilt established a new company called PharmaVU, Inc. through the Office of Enterprise Development with an investment from the University's Chancellor Fund. PharmaVU plans to contract the remaining pre-clinical toxicology studies to an outside company and then to conduct Phase I clinical trials.

"Carrying the drug through Phase I trials will greatly enhance its value," Roberts said. "At that point it should be very attractive for a company to license and further develop it through Phase II and Phase III trials and eventually marketing."

The global market for COX-2 inhibitor drugs is approximately three billion dollars annually, and the global market for all analgesics, including COX-2 inhibitors, is expected to reach $12 billion by 2003. Vanderbilt University's future revenues of this technology could reach $1 billion per year.

Promising Future in Alzheimer's, Cancer

The particular COX-2 Inhibitor Technology being given today also shows potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease - areas that Vanderbilt researchers will continue to investigate.

"There is great excitement about the potential of COX-2 inhibitors for both cancer prevention and cancer treatment," said Dr. Mace L. Rothenberg, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, associate professor of Medicine, and director of Phase I Drug Development for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

"In addition, COX-2 inhibitors can be combined with chemotherapy and thereby potentiate the anti-tumor activity of the chemotherapy," Rothenberg said. "We will conduct pre-clinical screening of a large number of drug combinations, including the P&G COX-2 Inhibitor Technology compounds, to help identify leads for cancer treatment."

In addition to cancer research, Vanderbilt intends to research COX-2 Inhibitor Technology's potential for Alzheimer's Disease. Initial research on COX-2 inhibitors indicates that they may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's or delay its onset.

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private research university of approximately 5,900 undergraduates and 4,300 graduate and professional students. Founded in 1873, the University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education and human development, engineering and music, and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the Media Relations homepage at

About Procter & Gamble

P&G markets 300 brands to nearly five billion consumers in 140 countries. P&G invests nearly $2 billion a year to develop and improve its products -- leading the way in R&D globally among consumer products companies. P&G's Global Licensing Organization is promoting the full development and use of the company's innovations. This includes selling, licensing and, in select cases, donating P&G's technologies.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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