SOURCE: Oxford Biomedica Plc

June 03, 2005 04:01 ET


OXFORD, UK -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 3, 2005 --

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             3 JUNE 2005


               - Anticancer Antibody Expressed in Chicken Eggs -

Oxford, UK: 3 June 2005 - Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB), the leading gene therapy company, Viragen, Inc (AMEX: VRA) and the Roslin Institute (Scotland) today announced a breakthrough in their collaborative project to develop Avian Transgenic Biomanufacturing. For the first time, the collaboration has produced a potentially therapeutic protein selectively in the whites of eggs laid by a transgenic hen. This technology is expected to offer a low cost manufacturing alternative for the production of many protein drugs, with additional potential advantages in the quality of the products.

The therapeutic protein successfully expressed, using Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector® gene delivery system in Viragen's proprietary avian system, is a novel structure of an antibody in Viragen's product portfolio, designed to treat malignant melanoma. Three other protein-drug candidates are included in ongoing avian expression studies to demonstrate the breadth of its capabilities, including two commercially marketed products, both of which realise more than $2 billion in annual sales.

Analysis indicates that the protein expression levels in the egg are significantly higher than any previously published results for a therapeutic protein produced from an avian transgenic line.

The project's scientific leader, Roslin Senior Scientist, Dr. Helen Sang, Ph.D., commented on the breakthrough: "We have long believed that this joint effort would develop an avian system capable of efficiently and economically producing human biopharmaceuticals, and with this major milestone achievement, I am even more convinced that we are developing an elite manufacturing platform that should emerge as a method of choice for many products."

Dr. Sang elaborated on how this differs from earlier avian results: "We previously published results demonstrating ubiquitous expression throughout the entire bird. This latest result indicates that we have now been able to target the expression so that the functional protein is synthesised as a component of the egg white."

Viragen's President and CEO, Charles A. Rice, discussed the market opportunity: "The biopharmaceutical drug market is projected to generate in excess of $50 billion in sales by 2010, and antibodies alone are expected to make up approximately $17 billion of that market. Our goal is clear - to develop a manufacturing platform for many of these products that offers compelling advantages over existing systems."

Commenting on the milestone achievement, Oxford BioMedica's CEO, Professor Alan Kingsman, said: "We are delighted that our collaborative partner Viragen, with the Roslin Institute, is making such rapid progress towards the development of avian-manufactured therapeutic products. The milestone reported today represents a major technical achievement in targeted protein production within a transgenic animal and further demonstrates the value of the LentiVector system in providing long-term, stable gene expression that is amenable to tissue-specific regulation. Viragen's achievement, together with today's announcement of preclinical efficacy data with Innurex, Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector-based product for nerve repair, emphasise the progress being made and the versatility of this exceptional gene transfer technology".


For further information, please contact:
Oxford BioMedica plc:                          Tel: +44 (0)1865 783 000
Professor Alan Kingsman, Chief Executive

Viragen, Inc:                                  Tel: (954) 233 8746
Director of Communications, Doug Calder

City/Financial Enquiries:                      Tel: +44 (0)20 7466 5000
Lisa Baderoon/ Mark Court/ Mary-Jane Johnson Buchanan Communications

Scientific/Trade Press Enquiries:              Tel: +44 (0)20 7886 8150
Sue Charles/ Katja Stout/ Ashley Lilly
Northbank Communications

Notes to editors:

1. Oxford BioMedica
Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB) is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in the
development of novel gene-based therapeutics with a focus on the areas of
oncology and neurotherapy. The Company was established in 1995 as a spin out
from Oxford University, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Oxford BioMedica has core expertise in gene delivery, as well as in-house
clinical, regulatory and manufacturing know-how. In oncology, the pipeline
includes an immunotherapy and a gene therapy in multiple Phase II trials, and a
preclinical targeted antibody therapy in collaboration with Wyeth. In
neurotherapy, the Company's lead product is a gene therapy for Parkinson's
disease, which is expected to enter clinical trials in early 2006, and four
further preclinical candidates. The Company is underpinned by over 80 patent
families, which represent one of the broadest patent estates in the field.

The Company has a staff of approximately 65 split between its main facilities in
Oxford and its wholly owned subsidiary, BioMedica Inc, in San Diego, California.
Oxford BioMedica has corporate collaborations with Wyeth, Intervet, Amersham,
Viragen, MolMed and Kiadis; and has licensed technology to a number of companies
including Merck & Co and Biogen Idec.

Further information is available at

2. Viragen, Inc
Viragen researches, develops and commercialises pharmaceutical products designed
to treat a broad range of viral and malignant diseases. These protein-based
drugs include: Multiferon(R), a natural human alpha interferon, approved for
sale in various international markets; and humanized anti-cancer monoclonal
antibodies. Viragen is also pioneering the development of Avian Transgenic
Technology, with the renowned Roslin Institute, as a biomanufacturing platform
for the large-scale, efficient and economical production of therapeutic
proteins. For more information, please visit

3. Oxford BioMedica and Viragen collaboration
Oxford BioMedica licensed its LentiVector gene delivery system to Viragen in
July 2004 for use of the technology in the development of Avian Transgenics. The
agreement includes upfront and annual licence payments in addition to milestone
payments on the achievement of technical goals and royalties on

4. LentiVector technology
Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector gene delivery technology, based on lentiviruses,
is arguably the most potent system currently available for treating a range of
diseases, particularly those of the central nervous system. Oxford BioMedica has
shown that its lentiviral vectors are able to deliver genes with high efficiency
to a variety of both dividing and non-dividing cells, including neurons in the

Oxford BioMedica has three issued US patents and a European patent for its
LentiVector technology. These include broad composition of matter claims and
methods of production claims for lentiviral vector gene delivery systems of both
human and non-human origin. The patents also cover derivatives of lentiviral
vector systems that, unlike many versions of lentiviral vectors, have real
clinical utility because of their safety.

The Company has established a neurotherapy pipeline of product candidates based
on its LentiVector technology. Current licensees of the technology include Merck
& Co and Biogen Idec.

5. Avian Transgenic Technology
Viragen holds the worldwide exclusive license to commercialise Avian Transgenic
Biomanufacturing Technology as granted by Roslin Institute (Scotland). The
project is designed to develop the chicken into a pharmaceutical bioreactor, one
that can meet the growing need for protein-based human therapeutics. Based on
the creation of lines of transgenic hens which have been engineered to produce a
target protein in their eggs using Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector system, this
technology is being developed as an efficient and economical alternative to
standard biomanufacturing techniques, having many apparent advantages in ease of
scale-up, lower costs of production and quality of product produced.

This project has been funded in part from a $650,000 grant awarded by the
Scottish Executive's "SPUR Plus Programme", designed to support significant
technological advances being made in Scotland.

                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange