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Wyeth buys Scottish biotech firm

Published on 08/10/07 at 03:43pm

Wyeth is to acquire Haptogen, a biotech research company based in Aberdeen which has a unique approach to targeting the immune system.

The company gets its name from haptens, small molecules which can elicit an immune response only when attached to a large carrier such as a protein, a novel target its researchers have been investigating since 2002.

Haptogen was founded as a spin-out of the University of Aberdeen, and is still based on the university campus, where it has developed a technology which could lead to the next generation of targeted biotech drugs in areas such as anti-infectives (antibiotics), CNS disease, liver disease and obesity management.

The company's research programme offers the potential for more convenient routes of administration as well as cell and organ penetration, opening up the chance to treat diseases that have not been treatable with the first generation of protein therapeutics.

"Haptogen brings to Wyeth a suite of next-generation biotechnology discovery technologies that complement Wyeth's ongoing biotherapeutic discovery efforts," says Frank Walsh, head of drug discovery at Wyeth.

"In addition to the exciting technology and first-rate research team that we are bringing into our organisation, we consider the opportunity to conduct biopharmaceutical drug discovery in Scotland particularly important because of the rich pool of scientific and technological talent."

Wyeth already has a significant research relationship in the field of translational medicine through the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration in Scotland. The partnership was launched in 2006 and includes Wyeth as well as the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow, regional National Health Service boards and Scottish Enterprise.

"Since Haptogen started its discussions with Wyeth, we have been impressed by the quality and commitment of the people we have met," says Jim Reid, founder and chief executive of Haptogen.

"We believe that combining Haptogen's technology platforms with Wyeth's existing discovery and development capabilities creates the greatest opportunity for realising the potential to bring new treatments to patients."

Haptogen's most advanced development programmes are in the discovery and development of human antibodies for use against infectious disease organisms.  The company has developed human antibodies to target bacterial signalling molecules rather than targeting the bacteria themselves, which it believes will mean drug resistance is highly unlikely to develop.


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