BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - IsoTis NV set up a subsidiary, Chienna BV, to specialize in applying IsoTis's polymer and ceramic technologies to protein drug delivery.

The new unit will be based at IsoTis's facility in Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Hans Herklots, IsoTis's spokesman, told BioWorld International: "These technologies were originally developed as part of our tissue engineering platform, because you need to keep tissues in a cell-forming state. We then discovered these properties are important for the delivery of proteins. We were promoting the platform, but saying we were tissue engineers who do drug delivery was confusing our message.

"In addition, drug delivery is a very attractive area to be in, and the potential of this technology is not really recognized in the valuation of IsoTis," he said.

Herklots said Chienna has a number of existing collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in protein delivery. The company's co-polymer material has advantages over other polymer systems used in protein delivery because it has a gradual-release profile that can be modulated.

"This means a protein can be released over six months, but also it can be modulated for release in six minutes," he said.

Chienna, which has 10 employees, will be headed by CEO Luc Sterkman, previously vice president of product and clinical development at IsoTis. Jeroen Bezemer, previously senior scientist in polymer technologies at IsoTis, becomes research and development director, and Andrew Guise moves from his post of associate director at UBS Warburg in London to become chief financial officer.

At present, Chienna has no revenues but expects its first milestone payments this year through collaborations with undisclosed partners. For now, it will be funded as a department of IsoTis.

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