The ProCellEx Advantage:
We believe that our ProCellEx™ protein expression system, including our advanced genetic engineering technology and plant cell-based protein expression methods, affords us a number of significant advantages over mammalian, bacterial, yeast and transgenic cell-based expression technologies, including the following:
Ability to Penetrate Certain Patent-Protected Markets. We seek to develop recombinant proteins that we believe we can produce and commercialize without infringing upon the method-based patents or other intellectual property rights of third parties. In several cases, the marketed biotherapeutic protein is not itself subject to patent protection and is available for use in the public domain; however, the process of expressing the protein product in mammalian or bacterial cell systems is protected by method-based patents. Using our plant cell-based protein expression technology, we are able to express the equivalent protein without infringing upon these method-based patents. Moreover, we expect to enjoy method-based patent protection for the proteins we develop using our proprietary ProCellEx™ protein expression technology, although there can be no assurance that any such patents will be granted. In some cases, we may be able to obtain patent protection for the compositions of the proteins themselves. We have filed for United States and international composition of matter patents for prGCD.
Significantly Lower Capital and Production Costs. Plant cells have a number of dynamic qualities that make them well-suited for the production of therapeutic proteins. Plant cells grow rapidly under a variety of conditions and are not as sensitive to temperature, pH and oxygen levels as mammalian cells. Our ProCellEx™ protein expression system, therefore, requires significantly less upfront capital expenditures as it does not use highly complex, expensive, stainless steel bioreactors typically used in mammalian cell-based production systems to maintain very specific temperature, pH and oxygen levels. Instead, we use simple polyethylene bioreactors that are able to be maintained at the room temperature of the clean-room in which they are placed. This system also reduces ongoing production and monitoring costs typically incurred by companies using mammalian cell-based expression technologies. Furthermore, while mammalian cell-based systems require very costly growth media at various stages of the production process to achieve target yields of their proteins, plant cells require only simple and much less expensive solutions based on sugar, water and microelements at infrequent intervals to achieve target yields. We believe that these factors will potentially result in lower capital and production costs for the commercial scale production of proteins by our ProCellEx™ system thereby providing us with a competitive advantage over competing protein expression technologies.
Elimination of the Risk of Viral Transmission or Infection by Mammalian Components. By nature, plant cells do not carry the risk of infection by human or other animal viruses. As a result, the risk of contamination of our products under development and the potential risk of viral transmission from our products under development to future patients, whether from known or unknown viruses, is eliminated. Because our product candidates do not bear the risk of viral transmission, we are not required by the FDA or other regulatory authorities to perform the constant monitoring procedures for mammalian viruses during the protein expression process that mammalian cell-based manufacturers are required to undertake. In addition, the production process of our ProCellEx™ protein expression system is void of any mammalian components which are susceptible to the transmission of prions, such as those related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as "mad-cow disease"). These factors further reduce the risks and operating costs of our ProCellEx™ system compared to mammalian cell-based expression systems.
More Consistent and Potent End Product Relative to Mammalian Based Systems. Our ProCellEx™ protein expression system produces enzymes which have uniform glycosilation patterns and therefore do not require the lengthy and expensive post-expression modifications that are required for certain proteins produced by mammalian cell-based systems, including the proteins for the treatment of Gaucher disease. Such post-expression modifications in mammalian cell-produced proteins are made in order to expose the terminal mannose sugar residues, which are structures on the protein that are key elements in allowing the produced protein to bind to a target cell and subsequently be taken into the target cell for therapeutic benefit. In the production of Cerezyme, exposing these terminal mannose sugar residues involves a multitude of highly technical steps which add time and cost to the production process. In addition, these steps do not guarantee the exposure of all of the required terminal mannose sugar residues, resulting in potentially lower effective yields and inconsistency in potency from batch to batch. Our ProCellEx™ protein expression system, by contrast, produces prGCD in a "ready to use" form that does not require additional glycosilation or other modifications to make it suitable for use in enzyme replacement therapy for Gaucher disease. We believe this quality increases the potency and consistency of the expressed proteins, thereby further increasing the cost advantages of our ProCellEx™ protein expression system over competing protein expression methodologies.
Broad Range of Expression Capabilities. Unlike bacterial and yeast cell-based systems, which are unable to produce complex proteins, our ProCellEx™ protein expression system is able to produce a broad array of complex glycosilated proteins. We have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of our ProCellEx™ system by producing, on an exploratory, research scale, a variety of therapeutic proteins belonging to different classes of recombinant drugs, such as enzymes, hormones, monoclonal antibodies, cytokines and vaccines. We have demonstrated that the recombinant proteins we have expressed to date have the intended composition and correct biological activity of their human-equivalent protein, with several of such proteins demonstrating advantageous biological activity compared to the currently available biotherapeutics. In addition we have been successful in expressing proteins that have yet to be successfully expressed in any other production systems.