The protein, NK4, is an elastase-generated fragment of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) containing four kringle domains, initially discovered as a competitive antagonist of HGF.
Research suggests that it also possesses the anti-angiogenic property relevant to cancer and neovascularisation disorders and thus has potential as a drug therapeutic.
Preclinical testing of NK4 has shown inhibition of both metastasis and angiogenesis in multiple animal tumour models. Efficient production of NK4 using the LEX System will accelerate the rapid clinical development and commercialisation of NK4.
NK4 is currently in preclinical development for the treatment of multiple cancers and the creation of a commercial line will facilitate scaled-up production of the protein for clinical development and commercialisation.
"NK4 is a candidate for development with the LEX System as the protein has shown promise in animal models for several different cancers," said Jan Turek, chief executive officer of Biolex.
Biolex has produced a range of human proteins and monoclonal antibodies including Plasminogen, a protein containing multiple kringle domains similar to those in NK4 said Kunio Iwatani, chief executive officer of Kringle Pharma.
Biolex' LEX System uses Lemna as a transgenic host in its cGMP biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility.
The company is advancing a pipeline of product candidates including Locteron, a novel controlled-release form of alfa interferon targeting hepatitis C, which will enter Phase 1 clinical trials in 2005.
Biolex has a multi-protein strategic alliance with Centocor and collaborations with other pharmaceutical/biotech companies including Medarex and OctoPlus.