Tuesday January 9
Source: PR Newswire
PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Genencor International, Inc. (Nasdaq: GCOR) announced today that it has achieved a key milestone in the development of its transgenic mouse model with a mouse line expressing the human HLA DR3 gene locus. This model represents the first known in vivo model that contains the genetically linked DQ2 and DR3 genes. DQ2:DR3 is the haplotype most commonly associated with a number of important autoimmune disorders. The company also announced today it will, in cooperation with the Mayo Clinic, use this transgenic mouse to build an in vivo celiac disease model. Celiac disease, or as it is also called sprue, is an autoimmune disorder of the small bowel associated with gluten or wheat intolerance.
People who express the HLA class II haplotype DQ2:DR3 are predisposed to several autoimmune diseases, especially celiac disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, thyroiditis, and myasthenia gravis. Transgenic mice expressing this human gene haplotype have not been available to generate a mouse disease model closely resembling the human disease to study these diseases. The Mayo Clinic and Genencor will work together to validate this in vivo autoimmune disease model. Genencor expects that further collaborations with academia and industry will be announced.
"It is our belief that by using the new DR3:DQ2 transgenic mice expressing the entire human class II haplotype, we can generate new humanized mouse models simulating the human disease to understand the mechanism behind the predisposition, onset, target tissues, autoantigens and other genes which play a role in the severity and chronicity of the human disease," said Michael V. Arbige, senior vice president of research and development for Genencor. "Once a disease model is established, the model can be used to explore new protocols for immunotherapy, gene therapy and potential drugs to intervene during various stages of the disease. We believe this transgenic mouse is a major advance over currently available mouse models."
At a recent advisory panel review meeting on immunology at Genencor's research facility in Palo Alto, California, the panel assessed the company's progress in its development of transgenic mouse technology and identified several applications for the DQ2:DR3 mouse model. The panel advised that by using this model, research could be accelerated and advanced for several autoimmune diseases, including celiac and Graves' diseases, type I diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
"We were thrilled to see the reception of our technology by known experts in the field of immunology, and are very pleased to work with the Mayo Clinic," Arbige continued. "There are several near-term opportunities for our DQ2:DR3 mouse model. We will pursue these aggressively as we continue to develop the full human immune system in our i-mune(TM) mouse."
After more than six years in development, the company now has two effective innovations within its immunology platform: the i-mune in-vitro assay and i-mune in-vivo mouse models. Both developments could transform the development of biotechnology products by determining the human body's immunological response to novel proteins prior to human testing. These models have broad potential applications in the development of human therapeutics, vaccines and consumer products.
While there are many uses for Genencor's HLA mouse model, the company's ultimate goal is to develop the full human immune system in a mouse. Genencor has identified human genes believed to be key to the development of a human immune system in immunodeficient mice. The company has established transgenic lines of mice expressing these genes and is evaluating their ability to support the engraftment of human hematopoetic stem cells.
Genencor's humanized i-mune mouse will be a breakthrough in the ability to study and develop new treatments for diseases of the human immune system such as HIV, and will further advance research of genetically-linked autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis or type I diabetes. The mouse will also be used to study and potentially avert organ rejection following transplants, and significantly improve the ability to characterize and manipulate human hematopoietic stem cells.
As the second arm in its immunology arsenal, Genencor has developed its i-mune assay, an in vitro predictive immunological test that recreates the initial steps of a human immune response. This revolutionary test is an epitope mapping system that identifies portions of a protein that are likely to prime the immune system in naive, or unexposed, individuals. Once an epitope is identified, Genencor can engineer that portion of the protein to significantly reduce activation of an adverse immune response. Alternatively, it can strengthen the response to a pathogenic epitope to induce protective immunity. This will have application in human therapeutics, vaccines and consumer products such as personal care, as well as in the testing of agricultural biotechnology products.
Genencor International is a diversified biotechnology company that develops and delivers innovative products into the health care, agriculture and industrial chemicals markets. Using an integrated set of technology platforms, Genencor's products deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to many of the problems of everyday life. Genencor was established in 1982 as a joint venture between Genentech Inc. and Corning Incorporated. Since its founding, Genencor has grown to become a leading biotechnology company, with over $300 million in 1999 revenues, more than 250 biotechnology products in commerce, and approximately 3,500 owned and licensed patents and applications. Genencor, with more than 1,500 employees worldwide, has principal offices in Palo Alto, California; Rochester, New York; and Leiden, the Netherlands.
Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters discussed in this press release may contain forward-looking statements which involve risks and uncertainties, including significant fluctuations in product performance depending on factors such as a dependence on the efforts of third parties, a new and uncertain technology employed by Genencor and its uncertain application to new business ventures, dependence on intellectual property rights, the competitive nature of Genencor's industry and risks of obsolescence of certain technology. Actual results may differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements represent the judgment of Genencor as of the date of this release. Genencor disclaims, however, any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
Contact: Investors, Amy Giller, 650-846-7500, or Media, Angie Blackwell, 716-256-5200, both for Genencor International, Inc.