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Origen Therapeutics, Inc. Receives SBIR Grant Aimed At Furthering Human Polyclonal Antibody Development In Chickens; Over $5 Million


10/19/2005 5:10:02 PM

New Biodefense-Targeted Grant Brings Total SBIR Funding for Origen to Over $5 Million

BURLINGAME, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 18, 2004-- Origen Therapeutics, Inc, a privately held biotechnology company, today announced that it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant supports research aimed at generating human polyclonal antibodies in chicken eggs for use as passive immunotherapy to combat the growth and infection of pathogens or to block the action of toxins. The one-year Phase I grant provides $340,000 of research funding, and is convertible on the achievement of certain milestones to a potentially $6 million Phase II SBIR grant that would provide $2 million per year for three years.

Robert Kay, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Origen Therapeutics commented, "Polyclonal antibodies are very effective in fighting infectious diseases organisms, including those with potential for use as agents of bioterrorism. At present, human polyclonal antibodies can only be obtained from immunized human donors, limiting the number of immunogens that can safely and ethically be used to produce these therapeutics. Human-sourced polyclonal antibodies also present concerns about potential viral contaminants and have limited potency. Origen's avian embryonic stem cell technology offers the potential for developing transgenic chickens that produce fully human polyclonal antibodies in the yolk of their eggs, thus providing a convenient, sterile and abundant source of these effective fighters of infectious disease."

"We are very pleased at the ongoing recognition that Origen's top-level science has received in the last several years through the awarding of 12 SBIR grants from the NIH and U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Dr. Robert Etches, vice president of research at Origen. "Together, these grants have provided Origen with over $5 million in funding commitments to advance the development of our avian embryonic stem cell technology at a time of limited private venture funding for the development of platform technologies."

Origen has developed a broad-based technology platform centered on the isolation and culture of avian embryonic stem (ES) cells. Early-stage ES cells have the capacity to differentiate into any other cell type (totipotency), making them potentially useful for the large-scale replication of desirable avian lines, as well as the genetic engineering of poultry. When injected into recipient embryos, the ES cells can contribute to both somatic tissues and the germline (i.e. any cell that is destined to become a sperm or egg cell) of the resulting chimeric chick. Thus, desirable traits can potentially be reproduced on a commercial scale, either by repeating the ES injection process into many recipient embryos or through the conventional breeding of birds whose new genetic traits have become stably incorporated into their germline.

Origen Therapeutics, headquartered in Burlingame, CA is a privately held biotechnology company developing product opportunities from the emerging field of avian embryology, embryonic stem cells and transgenics. The company's mission is to become a technology leader in the production of complex recombinant protein therapeutics, including human polyclonal antibodies, not produced through other means. The company also plans to use its technology in the development of very high quality avian lines for the poultry industry. Attracted by the speed and economy with which domestic chickens can be produced, Origen expects to create significant corporate alliances with biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies, as well as within the poultry industry, for the commercialization of its products.

Contact:

Origen Therapeutics Robert Kay, Ph.D., 650-558-7726 rkay@origentherapeutics.com or Kureczka/Martin Associates Joan Kureczka, 415-821-2413 Jkureczka@aol.com

Source: Origen Therapeutics, Inc.


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