Israeli generics behemoth Teva is following the market and banking on the promise of biologics with its purchase of Human Genome Sciences biotech spin-off, CoGenesys.
Teva has decided that biopharmaceuticals are the way to go, buying up CoGenesys for $400m to get its hands on the firm's broad-based biotech platform and innovative pipeline, with the aim of becoming a leading player in the biogenerics market.
"Biopharmaceuticals will be a long-term growth driver for Teva, and this transaction represents an important spring-board in our efforts to establish ourselves among the leaders in this market," said Teva president and CEO Shlomo Yanai.
"CoGeneysys' acquisition reflects our commitment to capture the significant long-term prospects we believe the biogenerics market will offer."
CoGenesys was spun off from Human Genome Sciences as an independent company in June 2006, and focuses on the development of peptide- and protein-based therapeutics across a variety of therapeutic categories.
As well as the company's existing pipeline, through the deal Teva has also landed advanced technology platforms that the Israeli firm believes will play a pivotal role in getting it to the top of the biogenerics tree.
Particularly highlighted is CoGenesys' Albumin Fusion technology platform, which apparently solves the problems of short half-lives and complex manufacturing processes associated with protein and peptide therapeutics.
The technology makes use of Human Serum Albumin (HSA), the most prevalent naturally occurring blood protein which also has a half-life of almost two weeks in the human body.
The Albumin Fusion platform connects HSA to the peptide or protein therapeutic at the DNA level using recombinant DNA technology, resulting in the expression of a single recombinant polypeptide.
With many peptide drugs requiring frequent dosing as they are rapidly cleared from the circulation, a system that could promise the combined benefits of increased bioavailability, longer lasting effects and less frequent dosing does indeed sound attractive.
According to CoGenesys, the HSA-fusion technology can be used to improve both clinically validated and other well-characterised proteins and peptides, with speedy clinical evaluation. There are currently apparently over 40 marketed peptides worldwide, with around 270 in clinical testing and another 400 in advanced pre-clinical phases.
Clinical studies involving the albumin-fusion proteins have confirmed the technology's safety and efficacy, and promise improvements in pharmaceuticals across a range of therapeutic areas.
Most HSA-fusion products can be manufactured at a commercial scale using economically sound yeast-based processes, though traditional mammalian systems can also be used. The cost of goods for the albumin fusion products is typically also lower than for other techniques to generate long-acting biopharmaceuticals, such as pegylation or chemical cross-linking.
CoGenesys' new owner, Teva, does already have something of a biopharmaceutical infrastructure on which to build. The firm carries out product development and manufacturing in several countries, and also markets a number of biopharmaceutical drugs (including interferon alpha 2b, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and human growth hormone) outside the US and human growth hormone in the US.