BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - BioProtein Technologies has developed a new technology for the manufacture of recombinant vaccines and said it can be used to produce vaccines for a range of diseases, including cancers and viral infections such as HIV.

The technology is based on the use of optimized rotavirus virus-like particles (rotavirus-VLPs). Paris-based BioProtein, which focuses on producing recombinant proteins in the milk of transgenic rabbits, developed it in conjunction with France's National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA). The institute has filed a patent application.

Rotavirus-VLPs are high-molecular-weight protein complexes consisting of hundreds of rotavirus proteins of two types - VP2 and VP6. Those proteins, which are derived from the rotavirus capsid, assemble naturally to form virus-like particles that mimic the rotavirus structure. They have the same ability to trigger the immune system as the rotavirus but without the risk of infection.

BioProtein will use the rotavirus-VLPs as antigen carriers for the delivery of multivalent vaccines produced in the milk of transgenic rabbits. The technology enables a range of antigenic molecules to be inserted into the particles, from small peptides to large polypeptides carrying multiple epitopes. The company says the rotavirus-VLPs it has produced in rabbits' milk yield levels of expression and quality that are "fully compatible with the industrial production of recombinant vaccines."

Business development manager, Alexandre Fouassier, told BioWorld International that the new technology had been integrated into the company's existing production platform, which spans the protein manufacturing process, from genes or cDNA expression to the extraction of recombinant proteins from the animal.

BioProtein started to perform manufacturing services for third parties in 2002, but neither of its two existing customers - one in the U.S. and one in France - is a producer of recombinant vaccines, so it will be looking elsewhere to find takers for its new capability.