Firmly planted in glyco-engineering

If biologics are ever to take hold as large-market therapeutics, it will be largely because of companies who succeed in closely mimicking the post-translational modifications found in human systems

Randall C Willis
EAST WINDSOR, N.J.—If biologics are ever to take hold as large-market therapeutics, it will be largely because of companies who succeed in closely mimicking the post-translational modifications found in human systems; modifications such as phosphorylation and glycosylation. With this in mind, Phyton Biotech announced the acquisition of a glycoprotein engineering platform from Dow Chemical. The deal is expected to enhance an existing collaboration with Dutch research group Plant Research International.
 
The company expects to use the new platform to humanize monoclonal antibodies, which has been shown elsewhere to not only improve efficacy and diminish immunogenicity, but also to improve half life. According to a 2004 report by Frost & Sullivan, glycoprotein therapeutics are the fastest growing segment in the biopharmaceuticals industry with a CAGR of 24%.
 
This excitement has been borne out in recent years with several companies jumping into the glycomics market, including Merck's acquisition of GlycoFi and Roche's acquisition of Glycart Biotechnology.
 
In the report, Frost analyst Giridhar Rao warned that production capacity would also be critical in the success of this field. Apparently heeding this warning, Phyton also announced the installation of its second 75,000-L bioreactor at the company's cell fermentation operations in Arhensburg, Germany.

Randall C Willis

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