Symphogen, Origen develop antibody-producing chickens

Danish biotech Symphogen is joining with Emeryville, CA-based Origen Therapeutics to develop a transgenic chicken that can produce human antibodies. The deal marries Symphogen's knowledge of antibody development with Origen's expertise in transgenics--a growing field that uses genetically engineered animals for therapeutic manufacturing. In this collaboration, chickens will be immunized against disease targets like cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune disease and Symphogen will develop antibodies targeted against the diseases. The chickens will be used as a breeding ground--a living platform technology--for more complex antibody therapeutics which researchers believe could be more effective than the current generation of antibodies. 

"Symphogen's Symplex technology is an extremely powerful platform for direct isolation of potent, fully human antibody drug lead candidates against exogenous targets, for example such as those for infectious diseases," said Kirsten Drejer, Ph.D., CEO of Symphogen. "The transgenic chicken to be developed by Origen will complement our existing discovery platform and provide us with the strategic freedom to develop recombinant fully human antibodies against any disease of interest, including cancer and autoimmune diseases, for our own product pipeline or together with our partners."

The deal involves an unspecified upfront payment to Origen along with milestones as the program advances. "We both believe the future lies in the use of multiple antibodies against a disease target, rather than the single monoclonal antibody approach, to achieve a more potent therapeutic effect with fewer side effects," sais Origen CEO Robert Kay, Ph.D. "Origen's avian transgenic technology provides the means to reach that goal. Together, we will develop transgenic chickens capable of producing a repertoire of human sequence antibodies in response to immunization with specific disease antigens, and create complex antibody-based therapeutics against a wide range of diseases."

- check out the press release

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