LONDON - GeneMedix plc, a manufacturer of generic versions of branded recombinant proteins, plans to list on the London and Singapore stock exchanges, raising #20 million (US$28.4 million), becoming the first biotechnology company on the Singapore exchange.

CEO Paul Edwards told BioWorld International that GeneMedix chose to list in Singapore because "our initial markets will be in Asia, and we were invited over to Singapore and found the atmosphere very supportive. The Singapore government has just put 2 billion Singapore dollars (US$1.1 billion) into life sciences."

GeneMedix, based in Newmarket, UK, will raise #13 million in moving up from Ofex, London's off-exchange trading facility, to the main market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and #7 million in listing on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd.

Of the proceeds, #3.6 million will go to complete the acquisition of a 75 percent shareholding in Shanghai Dongxin Biotechnology Co. Ltd., a manufacturing plant in Shanghai, China, for which GeneMedix is paying #6.8 million in total. It will invest a further #1 million to bring the plant up to Western Good Manufacturing Practice standards.

The company is targeting a number of large-market value proteins that are either not patent protected in certain territories, or have patents expiring in the next five to 10 years. Edwards said he was confident the company would avoid patent disputes.

GeneMedix's first product, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), has been granted a new drug certificate in China and is due to be launched in 2001. The company then plans to launch erythropoietin and interferon-alpha in 2002. The plant in Shanghai already is producing validation batches of GM-CSF.

Although there are a number of niche manufacturers of these therapeutic proteins, Edwards said GeneMedix would be the first large-scale, quality manufacturer. There is a high unmet need for the proteins in countries including India, China, Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia. "We will grow the markets for these products, because there is a supply problem in Asia."

GeneMedix has a collaboration with the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry (SIB), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "SIB owns 14 percent to 15 percent of the company, in return for worldwide rights to high-expressing cell lines. In effect, SIB is our research base, and this has allowed us to shortcut our way in the development of the business," Edwards said.

GeneMedix was co-founded in 1997 by Kim Tan, the biotechnology entrepreneur who set up KS Biomedix plc, which is listed on the LSE.