Stellar receives milestone from Bayer Innovation

The firms will expand their joint development agreement

Bayer Innovation is to make a milestone payment to Stellar Biotechnologies, a Californian manufacturer of pharmaceutical grade immune carrier proteins, and expand a joint development agreement between the two companies. The financial details were not disclosed

Under terms of the agreement, Stellar Biotechnologies supplies Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (KLH) to Bayer Innovation, which is coupled to the idiotype protein produced in tobacco plants. KLH is a highly potent immuno-stimulatory protein, which stimulates the lymphocytes to recognise even familiar proteins attached to it as foreign. During the immune response that ensues, the lymphocytes mainly focus on the peptide sequence of the attached tumour idiotype.

This so-called immunogenic carrier molecule comes solely from the rare keyhole limpet, and Stellar has technology for the maintenance of the animal, the non-lethal extraction of the critical molecule and a profitable refinement process of KLH.

Bayer's personalised idiotype vaccine for the treatment of Non-Hodgkin's-Lymphoma (NHL) is currently in Phase I clinical trials, and the cooperation is related to the development of a personalised NHL vaccine. The vaccine antigen is produced in tobacco plants based on Bayer's proprietary magnICON technology.

Dr John Butler, Global Project Leader of Plant Made Pharmaceuticals (PMP) for Bayer, said: ‘We believe we have made a significant impact on the potential cost structure as well as efficiency and sustainability of our vaccine production. Securing a long-term sustainable KLH supply is a key element in our efforts to enable a new therapy that could significantly benefit disease outcomes and quality of life of NHL patients.’