Kirin buys transgenic cow firm Hematech

Related tags Immune system Antibody

Japan's Kirin Brewery Co has bought Hematech of the US, acquiring
the latter's core technology for the production of bovine-derived
human polyclonal antibodies which could be useful in the
development of a range of human-use therapeutics.

Kirin and Hematech have been collaborating on the development of human antibody-producing cows, expressing full-length human antibody genes, since 1999. In 2002 Kirin made use of a proprietary human artificial chromosome (HAC) vector to introduce human antibody genes into bovine cells and, using Hematech's technology, created cows capable of producing human antibody proteins and bovine antibody proteins. Subsequently, Kirin and Hematech have progressed to developing cows that can efficiently produce human antibodies.

The pharmaceutical industry currently uses gamma globulin preparations extracted and refined from human blood serum. By making use of human antibody-producing cows it may become possible to create an efficient, safe, and steady supply of polyclonal antibodies. This could have widespread implications for the development of new medicines to combat a variety of infectious and other diseases, according to the companies.

Kirin has already successfully developed a human antibody-producing mouse, and has formed a strategic alliance with US company Medarex to commercialise this technology on a global basis.

But while human antibody-producing mice are used for the development of monoclonal antibodies, human antibody-producing cows will be used for the development of large quantities of polyclonal antibodies, which could form the basis of treatments for viral or bacterial infections, autoimmune disorders, and other medical conditions.

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