The company that hit the headlines around the world when it unveiled the first animal cloned from an adult cell, Dolly the sheep, was tipped to revolutionise the manufacture of proteins by producing them in the milk of genetically-modified animals.
But despite spending more than £80 million, PPL was unable to develop a commercial product and eventually gave up the struggle in September of this year and put itself up for sale. No takers have came forward, so PPL decided to sell its assets, including a farm in New Zealand and a pilot plant building that was not included in the auction and is still for sale.
PPL's demise follows that of Pharming of the Netherlands, which also had ambitions in the transgenic production of biopharmaceuticals but went into liquidation in 2001.
Other companies are still pursuing the use of animals to make proteins, including France's BioProtein Technologies and the USA's TranXenoGen. However, there has been a great deal of interest of late in using plant- and fungi-based systems, which are seen as being easier to handle, provided issues such as making the protein products more 'human-like' can be overcome.