New deals for ProBioGen's cell engineering group

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cell line Cell biology Biotechnology

ProBioGen, a specialist in mammalian cell engineering and cell
culture, has entered into two separate agreements to develop
therapeutic proteins with Egyptian drug manufacturer Minapharm..

In the first agreement, ProBioGen will develop a biopharmaceutical cell line for the production of a protein drug owned by Minapharm, which sells generic medicines and has latterly moved into the area of biosimilars via a joint venture with Rhein Biotech, a subsidiary of Dynavax Technologies.

Minapharm will carry out the process research & development for making the protein, and have responsibility for manufacturing and it via its subsidiary, Rhein-Minapharm-Biogenetics, should it be approved for clinical trials and sale.

In the second agreement, ProBioGen and Minapharm will co-develop a second generation biopharmaceutical product using either ProBioGen's pre-optimised CHO (Chinese hamster ovary) cell line or its proprietary human neuronal cell line, called AGE1.HN.

In this case, Minapharm will exclusively market the product in Middle Eastern and African countries while ProBioGen will have promotional rights in elsewhere in the world.

The firms will also share the revenue from the product.

In October, Minapharm launched Thrombexx (recombinant hirudin) for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis after surgery, produced using Rhein's Hansenula polymorpha yeast expression system.

The product is a biosimilar version of Bayer's Refludan (lepirudin).

It also sells biosimilar versions of interferon alfa-2a and pegylated interferon alfa-2a., sold by Roche as Roferon-A and Pegasys, respectively.

ProBioGen has built its business on two main platforms: the improvement of existing cell lines such as CHO to improve production yields, post-translational modifications of proteins and secretion in cell culture; and the creation of new, proprietary cell lines, such as AGE.HN.

But this is the first time the company has negotiated promotion rights for a therapeutic product.

AGE1.HN has been adapted to growth in serum free media - a useful characteristic as pharma companies are moving away from the use of animal-derived media wherever possible - and has already attracted the attention of Swiss biotech Serono (now part of Merck KGaA).

Serono started a collaboration with ProBioGen a year ago to assess the potential of AGE1.HN in producing a range of recombinant proteins.

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