Chicago-area company advances Calanolide A, compound derived from Malaysian rainforest

Woodridge, Ill (September 24, 2002) - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a broad patent to Sarawak MediChem Pharmaceuticals of Woodridge, Ill., bolstering the company's proprietary position in the use of calanolides as potential anti-viral drugs, the company announced today. Sarawak MediChem Pharmaceuticals is a 50/50 joint venture between the State Government of Sarawak in Malaysia and Advanced Life Sciences, also of Woodridge.

"This broad patent coverage expands our intellectual property portfolio in calanolides as potential anti-viral drugs," said Michael Flavin, PhD, CEO of Advanced Life Sciences, which is conducting the research. "Issuance of this calanolide patent further validates our expertise in discovering and developing anti-viral agents to fight life threatening infectious diseases such as HIV."

Patent No. 6420571 (Method for preparing antiviral calanolide compounds) applies to calanolides, a class of compounds derived from plants in the rainforests of Sarawak in Malaysia. The lead compound, Calanolide A, is a potent non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) anti-HIV agent, and has demonstrated pre-clinical and clinical activity against HIV. The compound may offer a favorable resistance profile to combat mutations commonly associated with the use of current HIV therapies.

In addition, Calanolide A has demonstrated in vitro activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), distinguishing it as the only anti-HIV agent with dual activity against HIV and TB, the world's number one killer among infectious diseases and the most common infection in HIV patients.

Calanolide A is currently being tested in healthy human volunteers in combination with a marketed HIV protease inhibitor to demonstrate its safety in combination therapy. A recent issue of Antiviral Agents Bulletin highlighted the R&D efforts on the calanolides underway at Sarawak MediChem Pharmaceuticals.

Sarawak MediChem is a for-profit Public-Private Partnership (PPP), focused on natural product drug development by advancing drug candidates from the forest to the patient. (

Advanced Life Sciences is a privately held biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs in the therapeutic areas of infection, cancer, and inflammation using its platform in natural products and chemical proteomics coupled with expertise in drug development. (