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Athersys announces formation of joint venture with Elan.

Athersys, Inc. (Cleveland, OH; 216-231-9911), announced that it has formed a joint venture with Elan Corporation, plc (Westmeath, Ireland; 0902-4666), to develop and commercialize an undisclosed therapeutic protein for the treatment of AIDS-associated muscle wasting. The joint venture will combine Athersys' RAGE (Random Activation of Gene Expression) technology with Elan's MEDIPAD Drug Delivery System. Under the terms of the agreement, Elan has made a significant equity investment in Athersys; no further financial details were disclosed. Dr. Gil Van Bokkelen, president and chief executive officer of Athersys, discussed this partnership and described the multiple applications of the Athersys RAGE technology at the BIO CEO Conference in New York City.

This joint venture takes advantage of the Athersys RAGE-KTP technology, a novel protein expression technology that enables commercial scale production of therapeutic proteins in human cell lines by activating high level expression of the endogenous gene that encodes the protein of interest. Athersys is currently developing several proteins produced using the RAGE-KTP approach. Elan's MEDIPAD drug delivery system combines the simplicity of a patch with the delivery capabilities of an infusion pump, allowing for up to 48 hours of continual subcutaneous delivery.

"This joint venture represents a significant opportunity for us," said Dr. Van Bokkelen. "Elan's experience with drug delivery systems combined with the RAGE technology's unique protein production capabilities provide a great platform for a more effective and convenient treatment alternative for this severe medical condition. This joint venture further validates the RAGE technology's capabilities as a production vehicle for therapeutic proteins, as well as Athersys' continued commitment to develop and commercialize high value therapeutics."

The RAGE technology enables the creation of production cell lines without the use of standard recombinant DNA methodologies to clone and isolate a gene in order to achieve high level protein expression. In contrast to alternative technologies, such as cDNA expression cloning, RAGE does not require advance knowledge of gene sequence, structure, or typical expression pattern in order to activate expression of a given gene. Rather, the RAGE approach is used to randomly activate genes throughout the genome, ultimately resulting in the creation of comprehensive genome-wide protein expression libraries. In this way, the RAGE technology can be used to activate and express protein from virtually any gene in the human genome, irrespective of its typical expression pattern in the human body. High-throughput screening methods are then applied to rapidly detect the cell expressing the protein of interest, which are then expanded in cell culture to generate a production cell line.

Athersys is engaged in the development of therapeutic products for the treatment of significant and life threatening diseases. The company's research and development programs are centered around its two proprietary platform technologies: RAGE and the Synthetic Microchromosome vector system. By leveraging RAGE, Athersys can commercially produce specific therapeutic proteins, validate biological targets for drug development and conduct rapid phenotypic screening on a genome-wide basis for novel gene discovery.
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Comment:Athersys announces formation of joint venture with Elan.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Words:482
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