BURNABY, British Columbia–Chromos Molecular Systems Inc. in late May entered into a nonexclusive commercial license agreement with Pfizer Inc. Pfizer may now employ Chromos's ACE (Artificial Chromosome Expression) System in its own labs to develop cell lines that express proteins. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
The new, long-term alliance with Pfizer, which grew out of a collaborative agreement signed in December 2004, also marks Chromos's first commercial license agreement for ACE, says Alistair Duncan, president and CEO of Chromos. The initial Pfizer agreement, Duncan says, "was put in place within just five and a half months." The relationship moved quickly because Pfizer was "very well-versed in our literature and what we were trying to do, and they seemed to be quite willing to adopt the concept of the artificial chromosome very quickly. They were very open, very receptive to our technology and what we believe we can do with it, and it was an extremely supportive environment."
Pfizer's Dr. John Mott, research fellow, genetics group leader, bioprocess research and development, praised ACE, saying, "there are few new and innovative mammalian protein expression systems today. We believe the Chromos ACE system represents a novel approach to expression, which can be used in a wide variety of cell types and engineered cell lines, facilitating the construction of isogenic cell lines."
Mott says ACE provides "a rapid way of comparing protein expression levels and product quality between cell lines. The cell line developmental timelines and protein expression levels for this system are competitive with others in the industry." Pfizer, Mott says, hopes that ACE will "have an impact on current expression projects at Pfizer, and as a platform technology, the ACE system has strong potential for future development."
Chromos, says Duncan, is already working "to develop the system to the point where it's extremely user friendly," perhaps even in a kit format. The goal is to "provide [users] with the system and the appropriate SOP so they can in fact work with the system in their own environment." A variety of target materials can reside on an ACE platform chromosome, says Duncan, thus creating a multiplicity of cells and strains that provide the basis for both research and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals.
The Pfizer deal fits into Chromos's strategy of generating revenue by "trying to leverage our system into a variety of nonexclusive relationships and having our technology adopted by as much of the industry as possible," says Duncan. Chromos's other partners with nonexclusive agreements include Centocor/Johnson & Johnson.