Tetragenetics, a 2012 Gates Foundation phase II grant recipient and an emerging biotechnology company focused on particle-based vaccines and expression of ion channel drug targets, has entered into a collaboration agreement with an option for an exclusive license with Pfizer.
"This is our first agreement with a major pharmaceutical company utilizing SionX, a new application of our discovery platform," said John Reilly, vice president of business development. "Antibodies specific to extracellular domains on cell surface targets are the fastest growing class of therapeutic molecules. We are now well-positioned to license our SionX technology to other companies on a target by target basis.”
The SionX technology enables high density expression of recombinant human ion channels on the cell membranes of Tetrahymena thermophila. Immunogen preparations of the ion channel can be made in any of several formats: cell ghosts ("pellicles"), membrane vesicles, lipid rafts or partially purified soluble protein. These enriched ion channel preparations are designed to enhance antibody production against the extracellular portions of the ion channel target.
"Given the large number of ion channel genes encoded by these cells, their rapid generation time, and absence of a cell wall, our Tetrahymena system is superior for high-level expression and surface display of these challenging membrane protein targets particularly when compared with the more standard cell lines upon which biotech and big pharma traditionally rely," said Dr. Ted Clark, founder and chief scientific officer of Tetragenetics.
He added, "Having large biopharmaceutical partners recognize the potential value of our technology to solve well-known protein expression problems for commercially relevant targets is important recognition of our pioneering science."