Glycofi tech at root of Merck's biosimilar unit

If you dig deep into the Star-Ledger's article on Merck's ambitious plans to jump into the biosimilar business, you'll find that it will depend a lot on the success of the development technology advanced by Glycofi, a little company that it snapped up in 2006.

The scientists at Glycofi's lab believe that their use of yeast instead of mammal cells to make proteins will give them the inside track on developing new versions of older biologics. And their first target--like other manufacturers out to make their mark in follow-on therapeutics--is Amgen's Aranesp.

Unlike the traditional generic game, though, developers in the follow-on field will have a complex biologic to pursue. And Glycofi believes it can do even better than imitate a biotech product. Its scientists are out to improve on the therapy.

"We have the chance with the technology from Glycofi to not only make a product that has a somewhat similar profile, but a product we can improve," Frank Clyburn, senior vice president and general manager of Merck BioVentures, tells the Star-Ledger. "We have the unique ability to change, potentially, the potency of the product, the immunogenicity and other attributes." And that technology can also help them in the pursuit of entirely novel drugs.

- read the article from the Star-Ledger