October 26, 2004 — The pharmaceutical company Cognetix, Inc., located in Research Park at 421 Wakara Way, Suite 201, will be the site of a news conference on Utah Amendment 2 to be held Thursday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. Speakers will include representatives from the University of Utah, Utah State University, the Utah System of Higher Education, and Cognetix.
Constitutional Amendment 2 would amend the Utah Constitution to create a narrow exception to a provision prohibiting the state or local governments from purchasing newly issued stock from a private corporation. The amendment authorizes the state or a public institution of higher education to acquire an ownership interest in a private business in exchange for the sale, license or other transfer to the private business of intellectual property developed by the state or public institution of higher education.
Cognetix was chosen as the site of the media event because the company’s pharmaceutical products, now going through various stages of clinical trials, are based on research conducted by scientists at the University of Utah. In fact, Cognetix has just completed a clinical trial with its lead compound in spinal cord injury patients with chronic intractable pain. If Amendment 2 passes, the U of U stands to make a considerable amount of money off of the profits those drugs would generate. That money can then be used to conduct more research which could generate more income for the state funded institution.
The cone snail is celebrated for its beauty and feared for its poison, which on occasion has been known to kill swimmers stung by the snails. The deadly venom, however, is exceptionally rich in compounds called conopeptides that are being used or synthesized to make an array of pharmaceuticals. Cognetix, Inc. is a Salt Lake City company researching the use of cone snail toxins for acute and chronic pain, epilepsy, local anesthesia, heart disease, stroke, neuromuscular back pain, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury. Scientists are urging protection of the cone snail, which is on the brink of extinction.
Cognetix is positioned to become an innovative leader in the treatment of chronic pain. Worldwide, the prescription pain management market is approximately $25 billion a year, projected to increase to $41.5 billion by 2010. Chronic intractable pain is a key component of this market, with sales exceeding $2.2 billion, projected to grow 25 percent to 30 percent annually. Cognetix believes that its drug, CGX-1160, will capture a portion of the intractable pain market. Other conopeptide-based drugs now in the company’s pipeline are also expected to generate additional market share.
· Cognetix Chairman Denny Farrar
· Richard Kendell, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education
· U of U Vice President for Research Ray Gesteland
· USU Vice President for Research Brent Miller
Others attending and available for interviews include:
· Glenn Prestwich, a U of U medicinal chemistry professor who helped create five spin-off companies since 1997 (Echelon Biosciences, Inc., Salus Therapeutics, Inc., Wyoming Research Innovations, Sentrx Surgical, Inc., and DuoFluor Technologies, Inc.)
· Brent Brown, interim director at the U of U Technology Transfer Office
· Jeff Edwards, vice president at the Economic Development Corp. of Utah