PARIS - Meristem Therapeutics and SBH Sciences entered an agreement to co-develop recombinant proteins produced in genetically-engineered tobacco for research and development and diagnostics applications.

The companies aim to produce a large variety of human proteins, and the first selected for development are human proteins derived from the growth factor and hormone families.

The collaboration will bring together the experience and know-how of Meristem Therapeutics, of Clermont-Ferrand, France, in the plant-based expression of proteins that are free of pathogens transmissible to humans with the customized purification technology of SBH Sciences, of Natick, Mass. The two companies hope both to speed up the production of proteins and enhance their quality.

Meristem Therapeutics, which is specialized in the production of recombinant proteins in plants, has developed a new expression technology using non-food plants grown in a contained environment. It said the main advantage of that approach is that it combines the safety of a confined and controlled environment with the possibility of scaling up production quickly and cost-effectively.

For its part, SBH Sciences is a supplier of cell culture-based services to the biopharmaceutical industry and the research community, specializing in mammalian and insect cell culture. It claims to have developed the world's most comprehensive library of cell-based bioassays for over 200 biologically active cytokines, cytokine receptors and anti-cytokines.

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