June 16, 2008 / 7:08 AM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-DSM, Crucell JV boosts human cell yields

(Adds details, background)

AMSTERDAM, June 16 (Reuters) - Biotechnology firm Crucell CRCL.ASCRXL.O and chemicals group DSM (DSMN.AS) said on Monday they had made progress in the development of a technology which could cut the costs of pharmaceutical materials.

The two Dutch firms have created a technology, called PER.C6, to produce biopharmaceutical materials such as drugs and vaccines by using human cell lines instead of a chemical process.

The companies said they had boosted fermentation yields in human cells to a record level of over 27 grams per litre compared with 15 grams per litre in March. Higher yields enable smaller and cheaper production units.

“The use of PER.C6 technology will clearly impact cost of goods for marketed products and reduce the risk of premature high capital expenditures,” the companies said.

The current global market for proteins and monoclonal antibodies, which the companies are targeting, is worth $50 million to $60 billion and is estimated to grow to $200 billion by 2020. DSM has said the joint venture had sales opportunities of more than $200 million annually.

Crucell is the only company that has created a human cell line on this scale. The quality of human cells as a host for drugs and vaccines is much higher, as they are more easily accepted by the human body.

Most other cell lines are produced in hamster cells and have fermentation yields of between 3 and 5 grams per litre.

Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Erica Billingham

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