SYDNEY, Australia — FuCell Pty. Ltd. says it has developed human hybridoma cell technology to the point where it can produce fully human proteins, and is now looking for proteins to produce on demand.

Greg McDonell, business manager for Sydney-based FuCell, said the company hopes to compete with firms such as Medarex Inc., of Annandale, N.J., and Protein Design Labs Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., which use humanized mouse cells to produce proteins.

He said FuCell has an edge in that it has technology that fuses a cell from the human immune system, selected to produce a particular product, with a cancer cell. The result is an immune cell that breeds endlessly to create a cell culture that produces the product required.

McDonell said that, with the technique, developed by Hans Coster, out of 50 electromechanical fusions, one stable hybrid will be achieved, and out of every 10 stable hybrids, one cell will prove useful in producing a full cell culture.

The proteins, monoclonal antibodies, cytokines and receptors produced from the resulting cell lines are fully human. He said he believes those antibodies are superior to the antibodies produced by humanizing mice cells, as the human-mouse cells do not have the normal attached sugar groups found in human cells, and they have nonhuman components that can produce unfavorable responses in humans.

He said FuCell is now looking for clients, and has appointed the Seattle office of the Mattson & Jack Group to help with the search.

The first couple of products will be made without orders, to demonstrate the technology, with the development of each new product likely to take six to 12 months. The first product is likely to be an antibody for hepatitis B, McDonell said.

FuCell has more than 40 distinct, immortalized hybrid cell lines on hand, including several producing the human antibodies IgM and IgG, and other proteins.

Because FuCell's technology is separate from the other technology on the market, it can produce rival products without running into patent disputes, the company said. McDonnell also said the company is seeking a private placement of around A$1.5 million (US$916,175) and anticipates no difficulty in getting the money. *

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