Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HPV Vaccine Deal Huge for KBP, Regional Economy

from Keith Lawrence at the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro's Kentucky BioProcessing LLC has signed a deal that could have a huge impact on the region's economy -- if a new human papillomavirus vaccine is successful. Louisville-based Advanced Cancer Therapeutics has signed a deal with the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center to license its technology for a second-generation HPVvaccine.

And a second deal with Kentucky BioProcessing will allow ACT to use the Owensboro company's patented GENEWARE technology to grow the vaccine inside tobacco plants and to use the Owensboro facilities for commercial production if the new product is approved for the U.S. and world markets. If that happens, "a very, very significant capital investment would be needed" to Kentucky BioProcessing's facilities, Hugh Haydon, KBP chairman, said Wednesday. "But the business would be there to support it."

Haydon said some countries have a shorter window for testing new drugs than the United States. It's possible that ACT could begin production in Owensboro for the world market before it receives FDA approval to sell the product in this country, he said.

KBP, a world leader in the expression, extraction, purification and commercial scale production of proteins and other products from plants, operates a 30,000-square-foot biomanufacturing facility with an adjacent 22,000-square-foot greenhouse at 3700 Airpark Drive. It's not large enough for the type of production that would be once," Haydon said. "We would have time to ramp up for production if we get there. And we hope we get there."

ACT isn't the company's only customer. Last year, two start-up companies -- Mapp Biopharmaceuticals and Intrucept Biomedicine -- established a local presence at KBP. Haydon said earlier this summer that KBP is working with a dozen biotech companies on products at its bioprocessing facility. "And we're in discussions with upwards of 20 others," he said. Haydon expects at least one and maybe two more announcements this summer. Pharmaceutical production, he said, isn't subject to boom-and-bust cycles. The demand for medicine never slacks, Haydon said.

The intellectual property to develop the HPV vaccine, licensed to ACT through University of Louisville's Office of Technology Transfer, is based on research by Jenson, Kenneth Palmer and their colleagues. Palmer conducts research at the Owensboro Cancer Research Program, a joint venture between Owensboro Medical Health System and U of L at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center. "We hope that the technology we are using to manufacture this vaccine will yield a product at a cost that will facilitate its use in resource-poor areas of the world where vaccines against HPV are most needed," he said in a news release. "Our research to date indicates that the technology we are using to produce the vaccine protein in plants will be very cost-effective."

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