ZWINGENBERG, Germany & BERLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The White Biotech company BRAIN AG has acquired specific gene based industrial biotech assets of MerLion Pharmaceuticals GmbH. The assets include selected microbial strains, a substantial gene collection (Tool-Box) encoding modifying enzymes and a huge collection of cosmid libraries comprising more than 800.000 cosmids, harboring some 16 million genes encoding for novel enzymes and biocatalysts, which in the last years have been built up and genetically characterized by the Berlin-based Combinature Biopharm AG. In August 2006, Combinature was acquired by one of the world’s leading natural product research companies MerLion Pharmaceuticals of Singapore. The Berlin organisation, now MerLion Pharmaceuticals GmbH, focuses exclusively on the clinical development of antibiotics with core natural products research activities and microbial assets relocated to MerLion’s facility in Singapore.
Under the terms of the agreement, BRAIN will acquire selected Actinomycete strains from Merlion. These microorganisms are well known as producers of natural bioactive compounds as well as rare enzymes and biocatalysts. This already impressive potential is exceeded by the genetic potential of these organisms, which is a major insight of several recent genome sequencing projects. Under this transaction BRAIN will receive a substantial number of precharacterised and profiled E. coli cosmid genome libraries from diverse Actinomycete strains, a Tool-Box comprising several hundreds of cloned genes encoding modifying enzymes as well as a huge Actinomycete DNA collection which can be used for sequence-based screening approaches.
BRAIN will use these assets for the targeted genetic screening of genes encoding industrial enzymes and metabolic pathways. The pathway genes will be used for the genetic engineering of microbial producer strains with the goal of high yield expression of compounds for interesting white biotech markets.
"We see this development as an exciting opportunity to bring our gene library assets into a research and business environment which will deliver substantial growth”, explains Prof. Dr. Harald Labischinski, Managing Director of MerLion Pharmaceuticals GmbH. “It will also allow us to focus our efforts on the advancement of our promising antibiotic pipeline, which contains several novel candidates of which finafloxacin is now in clinical development.”
“Through the last ten years, BRAIN built up a highly diverse strain collection as well as broad application knowledge in Metagenome® handling for the identification and development of innovative BioActives, enzymes and biocatalysts,” states Dr. Jürgen Eck, Chief Technology Officer at BRAIN AG. “We are convinced that the Combinature microbial resources as well as the vast genetic resources will complement and strengthen our technology platform. The access to these resources will be of help to further increase our valid hit rates and to speed-up development cycles for industrial enzymes and biocatalysts. Moreover novel metabolic pathways will be expressed in genetically optimized microorganisms, so-called designer bugs.”
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Dr. Martin Langer
Source: BRAIN AG