KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii, May 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Mera Pharmaceuticals (BULLETIN BOARD: MRPI) today announced that it has entered a collaboration with Rincon Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based biotechnology firm that produces protein therapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies, using microalgae. Rincon has already demonstrated the technical feasibility of using microalgae to produce antibodies at laboratory scale. The purpose of the collaboration between Mera and Rincon is to use Mera's patented technology to demonstrate the scalability and economic advantages of using microalgae as a protein expression system.
"Protein therapeutics, especially monoclonal antibodies, are the fastest growing class of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry -- with over 200 products currently in clinical trials," said Bruce Steel, CEO of Rincon. "There is a tremendous industry need for new production systems that employ a more rapid, scalable, and cost effective means of producing protein therapeutics. The ability to cultivate algae at scale in controlled and contained systems is a vital part of the value that Rincon can deliver to the pharmaceutical industry. After evaluating a number of algae cultivation systems, we consider Mera to be leaders in the field, and we are very pleased to be working with them on our scale-up efforts."
According to Mr. Steel, Rincon chose Mera's Growth Modules(TM) (MGMs) for use in conducting these pilot studies for several reasons, including the fact that Mera's MGMs are among the largest photobioreactors in the world, fully enclosed, and computer controlled -- critical factors in the production of pharmaceutical grade compounds at commercial scale. The strength of Mera's technical team, which has already successfully cultivated algae for commercial products such as Mera's AstaFactor(R) line of natural astaxanthin nutritional supplements, was also a key consideration.
The agreement calls for Mera to perform pilot studies for Rincon at Mera's Kona, Hawaii research and production facility. As many as six antibodies will be tested over the next several months, beginning as soon as Hawaiian agricultural regulation requirements are satisfied. If the first round of studies is successful, Rincon would expect to exercise an option to use Mera's patented technology to develop its own production capability, beginning with a pilot GMP production facility.
According to Dan Beharry, Mera's CEO, this collaboration provides a number of important benefits for Mera. "The most immediate effect of the project is the additional revenue it will generate over the balance of this year. Together with the revenue we will derive from our recently announced relationship with a leading nutritional products broker, this project will be a big help in our efforts to continue improving our business fundamentals.
"If the pilot project succeeds, as we expect, then the value of this collaboration for Mera could increase significantly. Also very important longer term is the boost this project will give to our efforts to grow our research capabilities into a meaningful revenue stream. We have always believed that our technology has considerable value for a wide array of products beyond our current line of nutritional supplements, from pharmaceutical discovery to production of industrial enzymes. This collaboration should raise Mera's profile considerably and increase the opportunities to do still more research.
"We are actively engaged in serious discussions with other parties to conduct similar studies focused on other products, and the frequency of inquiries that we receive regarding licensing our MGMs has increased significantly in recent months. Mera considers its expertise in commercial-scale microalgae cultivation to be unmatched, and apparently Rincon agrees. Combining our expertise with the resources of other firms that have identified these aquatic plants as a source of valuable products will help Mera to realize fully the promise of our patented technology and build greater value for our shareholders."
Mera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Kona, Hawaii, focuses on identifying and producing valuable products from the rich, untapped resource of microbial aquatic plants. Long recognized for their potential medical and nutritional value, these plants have been largely ignored because of the virtual impossibility of growing them at commercial scale. Mera has overcome that obstacle through application of its patented photobioreactor technology, which allows Mera to produce a large number of species at scale reliably, efficiently and at high quality. Mera's first nutraceutical products, the AstaFactor(R) line of nutritional supplements, are a concentrated source of natural astaxanthin, found in a number of fish and seafood species. Astaxanthin is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and an extremely powerful antioxidant.
Rincon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a San Diego-based biopharmaceuticals company focused on the novel use of eukaryotic algae as a production system for recombinant proteins, especially monoclonal antibodies. Rincon is exploiting the tremendous opportunity for new production systems that employ a more rapid, scalable, and cost effective means of producing recombinant therapeutic proteins. The technology that forms the foundation of Rincon was invented and developed at The Scripps Research Institute. To learn more about Rincon please visit http://www.rinconpharma.com/.
This press release contains forward-looking statements characterized by the use of words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "feel" and similar expressions. Actual results might differ materially from those projected in, expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements. The kinds of risks and uncertainties that could affect the future operating results of Mera include, without limitation: (i) the ability to attract new business for its existing products; (ii) the ability to identify new products and bring them to market; (iii) the ability to identify promising pharmaceutical candidates and, if they are identified, the ability to have them successfully complete the clinical trial process; (iv) the sensitivity of Mera to general economic conditions; (v) the inability to attract the additional investment needed to plans regarding the drug discovery and development business. Additional information concerning risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in forward looking statements can be found in Mera's SEC filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-KSB and other periodic reports that it files under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
Contact Info: Daniel P. Beharry
Chief Executive Officer
474 Three Mile Road
Glastonbury, CT 06033
Phone: (860) 983 7964
Fax: (281) 664 5751
Mera Pharmaceuticals, Inc.