ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  30 November 2000


Two items:

2.     Pharming takes grip on cloning

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1.  Patent reported to allow man-animal hybrid
- Catholic World News & Vatican News, Eternal Word Television Network, 27 Nov 2000  European Office Granted It to Australian Firm in 1999, Paper Says

LONDON - A biotechnology company has taken out a  patent in Europe on a process which it claims would allow  animals to be developed with body parts originating from  humans, The Observer newspaper reported today.

An Australian company, Amrad, was granted the patent last  year, which covers embryos containing cells both from humans and from "mice, sheep, pigs, cattle, goats or fish," the newspaper reported.  Church groups have already reacted with outrage, denouncing the patent as "morally offensive," The Observer said.

In October the European Patent Office claimed it would never grant a patent on mixed-species embryos since they as considered against "public order and morality," The Observer said.  But this patent, discovered by a researcher in Greenpeace's German office, was taken out in January 1999 and has since been sold to a U.S.  company, Chemicon International, according to the newspaper.

According to the patent the hybrid-creating process starts by isolating a special hormone, the objective of which is to stimulate the growth of embryonic cells, or stem cells, The Observer said. These stem cells are the "master cells" which could in theory be used to produce virtually any type of replacement tissue for a damaged body.

John Grace, Amrad chief executive, said the patent would not be used to create animals with human cells, The Observer said. He reportedly said the process was mainly used to produce genetically engineered mice for research. [Entered November 29, 2000]
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2.    Pharming takes grip on cloning - by David Firn
Financial Times (London) - 29 November 2000

Pharming, the Dutch biotechnology company that cloned Herman the bull, is acquiring ProBio, a privately held US biotech company, in a move to broaden its presence in the competitive field of cloning and the genetic manipulation of animals.

Pharming and ProBio are competing with PPL Therapeutics, the UK company that cloned Dolly the sheep, and Genzyme Transgenics of the US in the race to use cloned animals to develop new medical treatments. Analysts say none of them has sufficient intellectual property to dominate the fast-emerging sector by themselves. ProBio has commercial rights to the "Hawaiian cloning technique", which has a much higher success rate than the methods to create Herman and Dolly.

Importantly, the ProBio method was developed in mice. Mice have always been widely used in drug development work. The emergence of techniques to genetically modify them to mimic human diseases is making them even more important.

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