The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs granted GenPharmInternational's European operation a loan of 21.76 million guilders(U.S. $11.5 million) to develop and expand its program to producetransgenic dairy cattle, the company announced Thursday.The calves carry the gene for human lactoferrin, an anti-bacterialprotein normally produced in human milk.GenPharm of Mountain View, Calif., will repay the loan to theEuropean operation based in Leiden, the Netherlands, only after itmakes money from commercialization of the proteins, JonathanMacQuitty, president of the privately held company, told BioWorld.No money is due if the product is not marketed. MacQuitty would notdiscuss other financial details except that the "interest rate isconfidential, but is relatively nominal."In January, GenPharm announced that its transgenic bull, Herman,sired eight transgenic calves. In 1991 Herman was microinjected with agene for human lactoferrin. Heifers then were artificially inseminatedwith semen from Herman."Since (January) a large number of transgenic calves have been born,both male and female," MacQuitty said, adding that the birthingprogram is expected to be completed by the end of April. At that point,MacQuitty said, specific details will be released.In January, MacQuitty said that about 200 transgenic cows would beneeded to commercially produce lactoferrin. The protein will beharvested from the milk and sold to manufacturers of orally consumedproducts, such as infant formulas and formulations meant to prevent orreduce bacterial infections in patients with weakened immune systems.MacQuitty said the $11.5 million loan is the largest granted to abiotechnology firm in the Netherlands."We believe this loan validates our proprietary technology in a verypowerful way," said George Hersbach, GenPharm's president and chiefoperating officer in Europe. "Together with our commercial partners,we can now concentrate on the crucial development stage of ourtechnology with less distraction from financial concerns."
-- Jim Shrine
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