The company has signed a contract manufacturing license agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) of Saskatoon, Canada, allowing SRC to sell services to PER.C6 licensees and not-for-profit organisations for the manufacture of gene therapy and vaccine products, using PER.C6.
This agreement also grants SRC a research license in order to expand its expertise in the use of PER.C6 technology, with a focus on veterinary and human vaccines.
>Crucell's novel PER.C6 technology uses cell culture for the large-scale production of recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies, including influenza vaccine, where the virus is grown on specially selected cell lines instead of chicken eggs.
The strengths of the PER.C6 technology lie in its safety profile, scalability and productivity under serum-free culture conditions. This cell culture process has the potential to reduce from four weeks to two or three weeks the start-up time for manufacturing and could result in a more predictable manufacturing process.
"The protein market is growing rapidly and may reach $200 billion in 15 to 20 years, and we believe that PER.C6 has the potential to become the technology of choice for an attractive part of that market," said Leendert Staal, president of DSM pharmaceutical products.
To date, Crucell and its marketring partner DSM have signed 20 PER.C6 licenses for production of various proteins, including licenses to companies with marketed proteins such as Merck, Roche, Ely Lilly/AME and J&J/Centocor.
Crucell and DSM are continuing to actively expand the development of its PER.C6 protein and monoclonal antibody licensing business and to facilitate this, recently established joint R&D centres on the US East Coast and in the Netherlands.
"We strongly believe that the intensification of our efforts will allow us to capture significant market share with the PER.C6 licensing business," said Ronald Brus, Crucell CEO.
In early December Crucell also 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 help Crucell form an independent vaccine giant, however, this deal was thrown into doubt when pharma giant Novartis also recently expressed interest in acquiring Berna.