By Lisa Seachrist
WASHINGTON — Genzyme Transgenics Corp. has entered into a collaboration with an undisclosed major West Coast pharmaceutical company to produce a therapeutic monoclonal antibody in the milk of transgenic goats.
This collaboration, which could garner the Framingham, Mass.-based company $35 million annually in royalties, is the 12th such agreement for Genzyme Transgenics to date.
"This is a very significant agreement for Genzyme Transgenics," said Patricia Dimond, director of corporate development for the company.
Under the terms of the agreement, the pharmaceutical partner will remain anonymous and the therapeutic target must remain undisclosed until the collaboration has begun to bear fruit. However, Dimond said that the partner is providing Genzyme Transgenics with $500,000 to start the project, with $3 million in milestone payments to develop transgenic goats to produce the therapeutic antibody in their milk.
Dimond said that the ultimate worldwide market for the antibody, which is designed to address an unspecified unmet medical need, is expected to be as much as $600 million per year. Royalties from such sales could reach $35 million annually for Genzyme Transgenics.
Genzyme Transgenics has made a name for itself by providing a means to inexpensively produce a large amount of human protein in the milk of transgenic goats. The company has collaborations with several large pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York.
In addition, Genzyme Transgenics has a joint venture with Genzyme Corp. to develop a transgenically produced anticlotting drug, recombinant human antithrombin III (rhATIII) in the milk of goats. That product is in Phase III trials for the control of clotting during cardiopulmonary bypass surgery (CPB).
CPB usually requires that a patient receive heparin to ensure that the blood doesn't clot. However, some patients are heparin-resistant and require another source of anticoagulation. ATIII is human protein that freely floats in the bloodstream to help the body maintain the appropriate level of clotting. The only source to date for ATIII is fresh frozen human plasma.
"A recombinant form of ATIII has the obvious benefits over a plasma-derived product," Dimond said. "In addition to possible infectious problems, plasma itself has become very scarce. We hope to replace fresh frozen plasma."
Clinical trials for ATIII are expected to be completed by the end of 1999. Dimond said the company envisions the product hitting the market sometime in 2001.
Genzyme Transgenics is a spin-off from Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which owns approximately 41 percent of Genzyme Transgenics' outstanding stock.
Genzyme Transgenics stock (NASDAQ:GZTC) closed Monday at $3.875 up $0.50 a share. *