The new company, called Pfenex, will be based in San Diego, California, US and use Dow’s Pseudomonas fluorescens-based platform that optimises protein production by using high throughput screening and parallel processing methodologies.
Using this platform Pfenex intends to become a biotech specialising in strain engineering and protein production. By focusing on these areas the company believes it can help accelerate the development of biologics and vaccines.
Dow will also contribute approximately 20 experienced employees, customer contracts and lists, trademarks and certain intellectual property to the venture. In return it will take a minority stake in Pfenex, as will Signet, a venture capital investor focused on the healthcare sector.
The move is part of Dow’s strategy of active portfolio management which it believes can maximise value. Dow is using this model to grow companies with novel technologies that have the potential for significant equity value.
It believes that Pfenex technology, which has been used by companies including Pfizer, fits into this category and the newly formed company has the attributes needed to succeed.
“Dow has invested in this business over the past five years”, explained Ken Van Heel, global director, Dow Venture Capital, adding that this has provided “the basis for an independent company with the potential for significant growth in this new independent business model”.
James Gale, managing director of Signet, added: “We are excited about Pfenex Expression Technology and the value of its protein expression system in surmounting barriers and shortening timelines in drug development.”
Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.