Protein power

Althea Technologies and Protein'eXpert accord connects early- and late-stage needs for client projects

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SAN DIEGO—Althea Technologies Inc., a provider of technology and services for pharmaceutical development and manufacturing, has signed a letter of intent to establish a complementary commercialization partnership with Grenoble, France-based Protein'eXpert, a contract research organization devoted to recombinant protein engineering and production for biomedical research applications focusing on optimization of valuable target or therapeutic proteins.

The transatlantic match-up, which was sparked by the introduction of the two companies through the LyonbioPôle and Invest in France Agency initiatives in the United States, brings together a set of offerings that should enable both companies to reach larger markets, broaden services for new and challenging products and better match early- and late-stage client requirements for protein projects.

"I think on a macro level, the process of developing drugs has focused on biotech drugs and protein products, and while Althea has a significant process development capability, we're focused more upstream and the Protein'eXpert folks have a tremendous reputation and skill set that is very valuable in early stage development," says Alan Moore, executive vice president and CBO of Althea Technologies. "You don't often see alliances between two companies like ours with such distinct audiences. But with increasing market pressures, it's important to consider clinical manufacturing goals earlier in the development process for a drug."

Clients will gain access to Protein'eXpert's advanced protein engineering, process development and optimization expertise, with the full realm of cGMP manufacturing resources for production and fill/finish services from phase I clinical to commercial manufacturing provided by Althea.

"The partnership with Althea Technologies is a great opportunity for us," says Dr. Tristan Rousselle, CEO of Protein'eXpert. "Their very strong position on the U.S. market and their outstanding production facilities shall perfectly complement our expertise and set of services based on recombinant protein engineering, development and small-scale GMP production."

In addition to providing Althea clients with valuable early-stage process development capabilities, the deal also should strengthen Althea's presence in Europe, notes Dr. Magda Marquet, president and Co-CEO of Althea Technologies.

"We have been working with Althea Technologies for several months to develop the optimal solution for its business in France," said Alexandre Thermet, vice president of Invest in France Agency–North America, in a news release announcing the deal. "The level of expertise and innovation offered by the Lyonbiopôle cluster, in addition to recent incentives implemented by the French government, led us to identify Protein'eXpert as an ideal partner for Althea Technologies. We will continue to work with Althea to ensure that they fully benefit from the range of advantages France is currently offering companies in their field."

Moore says Althea has been interested in entering the European market for the past four years and really started exploring the possibility in the past year. With the pharma universe having "three primary centers of innovative drug development" and Althea now having inroads to two of them—the United States and Europe—Moore says his company is keen to explore further geographic expansion and partnering, with the next such deal quite likely to be in Asia. DDN


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