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Roslin Institute signs major US deal to advance Dolly technology

UK scientists to play key role in developing new stem cell therapies

Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland, May 4, 1999: Roslin Institute today announces a major agreement with the Geron Corporation of California which will accelerate the development of new transplantation therapies for numerous degenerative diseases. The deal will also greatly benefit research at Roslin to genetically modify farm animals for biomedical uses including xenotransplantation. The agreement includes ?2.5 million in research funding to the Roslin Institute over 6 years and ensures that the UK will remain at the forefront of global efforts to develop the technology that led to the production of Dolly the sheep in 1996.

Under the terms of the agreement, Roslin Institute will also exchange its shares in Roslin Bio-Med for shares in Geron, and benefit from future royalties from new intellectual property arising from the Geron funded research. The deal will integrate three world-leading technologies in one company; human pluripotent stem cells, telomerase expression and nuclear transfer technology.

Professor Grahame Bulfield, director of the Roslin Institute, said: “The nuclear transfer technology that produced Dolly has many applications. This deal will ensure that UK scientists will play a key part in developing therapies that are potentially amongst the most exciting in human medicine.”

Professor Ray Baker, the chief executive of the BBSRC added: “UK science is often criticised for not capitalising on its inventions. This agreement ensures that the technology behind one of the great breakthroughs in biological science is going to be effectively applied to develop radical new treatments for disease.”

Roslin Bio-Med was formed by the Roslin Institute and 3i plc in 1998. As part of this deal, the shareholders in Roslin Bio-Med will exchange their shares for 2.1 million shares of Geron stock. Roslin Bio-Med will become Geron Bio-Med, a wholly owned subsidiary of Geron based at the Roslin Institute and Simon Best will be Managing Director. Professor Ian Wilmut, the pioneering researcher whose work led to the cloning of Dolly in 1996, and Professor John Clark, a world expert on transgenic technology will both continue to work at the Roslin Institute where they will head the Geron funded research programmes.

Professor Ian Wilmut commented, “the major challenge in making human cell therapy a reality is to understand the mechanisms involved in cellular reprogramming and this will be the focus of Geron funded research at Roslin over the next six years. The long term aim is to be able to re-programme human cells without using eggs or creating embryos.”

Geron will spend ?2.5 million in research funding over 6 years at the Roslin Institute and the Institute will gain an equity stake in Geron. Of the ?2.5million, ?0 million will be directed towards developing nuclear transfer technologies. The remaining ?.5 million funding will be used in the Roslin Institute’s animal genome research programme.

HCC Ref: Ros17

Richard Cripps or Richard Oakley, HCC-De Facto
0171 496 3300

Dr Harry Griffin, Roslin Institute
0131 527 4478


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