Pharming buys out transgenics company

Related tags Intellectual property

Pharming, a Dutch company specialising in the production of
proteins from transgenic animals, has acquired an Australian
company to shore up its patent position and technology portfolio in
this area.

Pharming plans to acquire ProBio International Holdings, a company in which it already holds a 45 per cent stake. The Dutch firm said that taking outright ownership of ProBio would expand the commercial opportunities for its recombinant human lactoferrin product.

In common with other companies set up to exploit transgenic production of proteins in animals, Pharming​ has been on the brink of going under in its history. But as other players such as Scotland's PPL have fallen by the wayside, Pharming has been quietly buying up intellectual property and technologies, and can now claim a leading position in this still-embryonic field.

After a difficult period over the last few years, culminating with a slide into receivership in 2001, Pharming had narrowed down its business to focus on one product, a complement C1 inhibitor made in the milk of transgenic rabbits that is currently in Phase III testing for patients with a rare genetic disorder called hereditary angioedema.

But in January 2004, the company completed a refinancing package that has brought in the funds needed to allow it to broaden its focus.

Through the ProBio acquisition, Pharming will gain control of the Australian firm's intellectual property portfolio as well as rights to non-pharmaceutical applications of recombinant human lactoferrin. In addition, the company will benefit from the relationships of ProBio with pan-Asian entities, including the Singapore, Australia and New Zealand governments.

"Pharming will regain Asian rights for recombinant human lactoferrin, strengthen its intellectual property portfolio, and forge valuable government partnerships through this acquisition,"​ said Dr Francis Pinto, CEO of Pharming.

Pharming is initially developing recombinant human lactoferrin as a nutraceutical as an interim measure while it pursues development of the product for the pharmaceutical market. The company has already demonstrated that recombinant human lactoferrin is safe, effective and comparable to the natural human lactoferrin.

The Dutch company plans to file for Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status for recombinant human lactoferrin and commercialise the product for nutritional applications.

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