Dow Chemical has entered into an agreement to manufacture a potential drug for cancer in transgenic plants. The deal, with Sunol Molecular, covers production of the protein in plants and a comparison with a version grown in mammalian cell culture.
Sunol is developing the protein, an anti-tissue factor antibody, as a treatment for various types of cancer. The company is also developing other anti-tissue factor products for inflammatory and cardiovascular applications.
The project will compare and contrast the efficacy of the Sunol antibody made via the two systems, and will particularly focus on glycosylation, in vivo testing and effector function. The ability to make proteins with glycosylation patterns that resemble the human form is one of the primary hurdles to overcome when using non-mammalian production systems.
Knowledge gained from the work is expected to demonstrate the utility of plant production for injectable biopharmaceuticals, although the agreement includes an option for Dow and Dow AgroSciences to evaluate the antibody as a cancer treatment for companion animals. No financial details have been released.
"We see potential value in plant-based techniques to provide good large-scale production economies, particularly useful for antibodies requiring large dosing and multiple indications," commented Dr Hing Wong, Sunol's CEO.
"Determining bioequivalence through in vivo comparison will be necessary to validate this emerging technology," he added.
Over 90 per cent of cancers express tissue factor, which facilitates tumour growth and tumour metastasis. Sunol's anti-tissue factor antibody inhibits activities attributed to tissue factor and also provides a cytolytic effect to help destroy the target cancer cells. It is currently in preclinical development.