Crucell makes progress despite threat to Berna deal

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cell culture, Biotechnology, Crucell

In the same week that saw Novartis threaten its planned merger with
Berna Biotech, Dutch biotech company Crucell has signed three new
licensing agreements for its PER.C6 and STAR manufacturing
technologies.

Three weeks ago >Crucell made an agreed all-share offer to buy Swiss group, >Berna Biotech,​ at the time valued at CHF 591m (€381m). The deal was designed to form an independent vaccine giant, however, this deal was thrown into doubt when pharma giant Novartis also expressed interest in acquiring Berna this week.

However, Crucell continues to expand its business, signing license agreements for its PER.C6 cell line technology with Danish company Ferring and US-based ZyStor Therapeutics, and a separate license agreement for its STAR technology with Genzyme in the US.

The PER.C6 license agreements allow the companies to use Crucell's cell line in the production of specific therapeutic proteins. Crucell, which collaborates with DSM in marketing the technology, now has more than 40 similar agreements with companies including Roche, Eli Lilly, Merck & Co and Chiron, which is now being acquired by Novartis.

STAR technology is used for the production of antibodies and proteins on mammalian cell lines such as PER.C6 human cell technology and the widely used Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line. It enables stable and high-yield gene expression important to recombinant antibody and protein production and has the potential to increase production yields, and reduce production costs.

Crucell obtained the STAR technology when it acquired Chromagenics, a spin-off company of the University of Amsterdam in 2004.

This technology is being evaluated for use by Genentech, and is currently also licensed by Medarex.

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