Anavex appoints leading Alzheimer’s disease expert Dr. Mark Smith to scientific advisory board

ATHENS, GREECE – February 10, 2009 – Anavex Life Sciences Corp., (“ANAVEX”) (OTCBB: AVXL) today announced the appointment of Dr. Mark A. Smith, Ph.D., FRCPath, to its scientific advisory board. Dr. Smith is recognized as one of the world’s most cited researchers in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease, free radical biology and neuroscience and behavior. He is Executive Director of the American Aging Association and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Smith is a leading researcher and professor in the Department of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He has authored over 600 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and book chapters.

“It is our great pleasure to welcome Dr. Smith to ANAVEX as a scientific advisor,” said Dr. Alexandre Vamvakides, ANAVEX’s Chief Scientific Officer and head of the scientific advisory board. “His internationally recognized expertise in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases will be invaluable to us as we continue to advance drug candidates with the potential to provide disease-modifying treatments for these major diseases.”

Dr. Smith’s research is focused on investigating the pathological mechanisms underlying selective neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases, notably Alzheimer’s disease. This expertise is of particular relevance to ANAVEX’s current lead drug candidates, ANAVEX 2-73 and ANAVEX 1-41, which are designed in part to utilize sigma-1 receptor ligands to prevent neuronal cell death in order to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions.

In preclinical testing to date, ANAVEX 2-73 and ANAVEX 1-41 have demonstrated powerful neuroprotective action at extremely low doses with no toxicity. ANAVEX is currently planning to prepare the Investigational New Drug (IND or IMDB) file to advance 2-73 to Phase 1 human clinical trials, which are expected to begin in 2009. The company expects to complete pre-clinical trials on ANAVEX 1-41 in early 2009.

A fellow of both the American Aging Association and the Royal College of Pathologists, Dr. Smith has received a number of notable scientific awards in recognition of his scientific research. These include, among many others, the Ruth Salta Junior Investigator Achievement Award from the American Health Assistance Foundation, the Young Scientist Lectureship Award from the International Society for Neurochemistry and the Nathan Shock New Investigator Award from the Gerontological Society of America. He has also been recognized for his contributions to teaching with, among others, the Outstanding Mentor Award from Case Western’s School of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Smith employs a variety of techniques in his research, ranging from histological to molecular biology to cellular and animal models and encompassing diagnostic, mechanistic and therapeutic strategies. His current projects are directed towards 1) fundamental oxidative and metabolic alterations; 2) homeostatic dysregulation of transition metals; 3) signal transduction alterations; and 4) inappropriate re-entry into the cell cycle.


About Anavex Life Sciences Corp.

Anavex Life Sciences Corp. ( is an emerging biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of novel drug targets for the treatment of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and depression. The company’s proprietary SIGMACEPTOR™ Discovery Platform involves the rational design of drug compounds that fulfill specific criteria based on unmet market needs and new scientific advances. Selected drug candidates demonstrate high, non-exclusive affinity for sigma receptors, which are involved in the modulation of multiple cellular biochemical signaling pathways.

ANAVEX’s SIGMACEPTOR™-N program involves the development of novel and original drug candidates that target neurological and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, pain). The company’s lead drug candidates exhibit high, non-exclusive affinity for sigma receptors with strong evidence for anti-amnesic, neuroprotective, anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, anti-depressant and anxiolytic properties. The company believes that oxidative stress, not amyloid-beta, is the cause of Alzheimer’s. ANAVEX 1-41 and ANAVEX 2-73 modulate sigma receptors, a unique class of receptor molecules, to guard against oxidative stress and repair cells compromised by its effects. So far, through the advanced pre-clinical phase of development, the compounds have performed extremely well in well-recognized animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, underscoring the promise of the company’s new alternative approach to the disease. 

ANAVEX SIGMACEPTOR™-C program involves the development of novel and original drug candidates targeting cancer. The company’s lead drug candidates exhibit high, non-exclusive affinity for sigma receptors with strong evidence for selective pro-apoptotic, anti-metastatic and low toxicity properties in various types of solid cancers such as colon, prostate, breast and lung. ANAVEX 7-1037 has already demonstrated its ability to significantly delay the growth of cancerous tumors in patient-derived xenografts during advanced pre-clinical studies.

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