Genzyme Transgenics Corp.'s Japanese joint venture, SMI GenzymeLtd., will provide up to $7.7 million in additional capital to funddevelopment and marketing of transgenically produced proteins.Genzyme Transgenics, of Framingham, Mass., a majority-ownedsubsidiary of Genzyme Corp., also announced Monday the signing offive new collaborative agreements with companies that will help fundtransgenic development programs for recombinant therapeutic,diagnostic, and processing proteins.SMI Genzyme originally contributed $6 million to the joint venturewhen it was formed in 1990. The additional capital will help fund botha three-year technology development program and a two-year programat Genzyme Transgenics for preclinical development of recombinanthuman antithrombin (AT-III), for use in the treatment of blood clots.Genzyme Transgenics in February announced expression levels of upto 7 grams per liter of AT-III in the milk of transgenic goats. Thecompany said it expects AT-III to be the first transgenically producedproduct to begin human clinical trials. That goal is targeted for late1995.The five new agreements bring to nine the number of activecollaborations Genzyme Transgenics has ongoing, Jim Geraghty, thecompany's president and chief executive officer, told BioWorld. Hewould not reveal specific natures of some of the agreements, nor whichcompanies Genzyme was working with in some cases. The newcollaborations are with the following companies:y Burroughs Wellcome Co., Research Triangle Park, N.C., for a high-volume recombinant source of an esterase, which is used in themanufacture of two therapeutic compounds. The program is expectedto demonstrate the advantages of transgenic production for a newcategory of high-volume proteins.y Cor Therapeutics, San Francisco, for a plasma protein beingdeveloped for innovative therapeutic applications.y An unnamed Japanese pharmaceutical company for a bone growthfactor.y An unnamed biotechnology company for an anti-cancer product.The fifth collaboration is with the Diagnostics Division of parentcompany Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., for a recombinantform of alkaline phosphatase, used as a diagnostic reagent. Genzymesaid this program represents the first known development of a reagentusing transgenic technology. It is expected to allow for cost-efficientproduction."The total value of these initial collaborations is not huge in a financialsense," said Geraghty, who added that many of the company'scollaborations average $100,000 to $200,000 in the pilot stage. "Thesignificance is not the dollars up front. The significance is, if it works,these companies are very interested in going into production."And, Geraghty said, the partnerships "represent a significant advancein the establishment of transgenics as a mainstream protein-development technology. They demonstrate both the breadth oftransgenic production and its acceptance by the biopharmaceuticalindustry."A typical transgenic development program starts by demonstrating thehigh-level expression of a bioactive protein in the milk of a transgenicmouse. Next is the generation of a founder animal in a larger species,followed by early stage production and preclinical development.Geraghty said the cost of producing a transgenic product, from capitalinvestment, would be between 10 percent and 50 percent of the cost ofdoing it in a cell culture system. He estimated a similar savings forproduction of the finished product.
-- Jim Shrine
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