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Kimeragen and Roslin Bio-Med unite to develop methods for precise genetic modification procedures of livestock.

Deal unites Roslin Bio-Med's cloning technology with Kimeragen's precise genetic modification procedures in research targeting genes important in xenotransplantation and product safety.
 

Roslin, Midlothian, (Scotland and Newtown., P.A, - October 20, 1998 - Roslin Bio-Med Ltd. and Kimeragen, Inc. announced today that they have entered into an exclusive collaboration to develop methods for the precise genetic modification of livestock. Using Kimeragen's proprietary chimeraplasty technology, the collaborators will seek to modify two genes - ovine PRP, the gene associated with scrapie, the sheep form of 'Mad Cow Disease' and Ovine alpha 1-3 Gal associated with hyperacute transplant rejection of animal organs transplanted into humans, a major technical hurdle for xenotransplantation. The research team will apply chimeraplasty and nuclear transfer technology to demonstrate the ability to produce animals carrying the modified genes. The two companies believe that the combination of these two technologies offers the potential to 1) eliminate the disease causing gene from sheep and cattle and 2) support the creation of transgenic animals whose organs will be suitable for human transplants. Following the initial experiments, the collaboration will focus on research necessary for the creation of elite founder herds for biomedical production.

The nuclear transfer technology which gave the world the first animal cloned from an adult cell - Dolly - was co-invented by Professor Ian Wilmut, Ph.D., Scientific Director, Roslin Bio-Med Ltd. Simon G Best, Chief Executive Officer of Roslin Bio-Med commented, 'Roslin Bio-Med has exclusive rights to use the Roslin Institute's cloning technology in almost all biomedical applications. Xenotransplantation and the exclusion of disease causing prions are our first priorities and the research agreement with Kimeragen is an important step in our strategy to provide the technology to allow the production of organs for transplant which are safe and overcome rejection problems.'

'We believe that the successful chimeraplasty and cloning of these modified animals will be another example of the mission of biotechnology, to utilise the most current scientific methodologies to prevent disease at the genetic level' stated Gerald L Messerschmidt, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Kimeragen. 'If successful, this mutual and long-term collaboration will create animals free of prions and progress to other applications with significant impact on human health. We believe our chimeraplasty technology in combination with Roslin Bio-Med's cloning is a key approach to solving what are otherwise intractable problems and we are excited about the opportunity to meet the challenge.'

During the research the chimeraplasty procedure will be used to alter target genes in cultured cells. The modified nucleus (that part of the cell which contains the genes) will then be transferred to an animal egg which has had its nucleus removed and then implanted in a mother animal - in this case a sheep.

'The combination of these two powerful technologies can change the way we think about eradicating disease' said Clifford Steer, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Nine months ago Dr Steer published the first use of chimeraplasty to change the sequence of the genes for Haemophilia B in rats. 'The specificity of gene modification through chimeraplasty in combination with cloning should truly benefit society.'

Kimeragen's enabling technology platform, known as chimeraplasty, allows targeted repair or replacement of DNA without the use of viral or other conventional gene delivery vectors. In this site-specific technique, a desirable sequence of DNA is combined with RNA, forming what is known as a chimeraplast. When used in clinical applications, this molecule is packaged with a delivery system and then administered into the subject and ultimately the chimeraplast binds selectively to the portion of the target DNA to be corrected. Once bound, chimeraplasty activates the body's own gene-correcting mechanism, which mediates the DNA sequence change, Chimeraplasty is referred to as 'precise genetic surgery' because DNA is corrected without affecting the rest of the genome or altering normal protein expression and cell function.

Kimeragen, Inc., is a privately held company headquartered in Newtown, Pennsylvania, engaged in the discovery, development and marketing of unique products for human health, plant and animal/veterinary applications. The Company is developing chimeraplasty as an enabling technology for three distinct business areas: pharmaceuticals to repair genetic abnormalities implicated in a broad array of human diseases; plants and industrial products to enhance genetic traits in plants; genomic and transgenic animal technologies aimed at developing higher value applications and products for human health and veterinary care.The company plans to commercialise many of those applications through partnerships with global leaders in these fields.

Roslin Bio-Med, Ltd, (RBM) is a new life science company which was established in April 1998 to develop the Roslin Institute's unique nuclear transfer technology for biomedical applications. Using nuclear transfer technology RBM alms to produce elite founder herds of genetically modified livestock which will provide human healthcare products such as xeno-organs for transplant, blood components and antibodies.

The majority shareholders in RBM are the Roslin Institute (Edinburgh) and 3i Group plc, Europe's leading venture capitalist.

For further information, please contact:

Simon Best
Chief Executive Officer
Roslin Bio-Med Ltd
Tel: 44 131 527 4272

 

 

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