Tuesday, Nov 24, 1981
South San Francisco, Calif. -- November 24, 1981 --Scientists at Genentech, Inc. reported in the November issue of Nucleic Acids Research, published in London, that they had successfully produced human serum albumin in bacteria and yeast using recombinant DNA methods.
Dr. Richard Lawn and his research team authored the scientific paper describing the process for producing the plasma protein. Albumin is presently obtained from blood bank donors and is used primarily as a therapeutic treatment to replace blood loss (hypovolemia) such as occurs as a result of surgery, burns, shock, and other types of physical trauma.
Since albumin supplies are obtained solely from donors, periodic shortages have affected availability worldwide. Furthermore, the process of coordinating the collection and distribution of plasma through donor centers is complex and large capital costs are involved in extracting albumin from plasma.
Robert Swanson, Genentech president, said, "This achievement is of special scientific interest because it is believed that albumin is the largest human protein (585 amino acids, molecular weight--68,000) produced through genetic engineering. This is an opportunity to increase the availability of an important product at a potentially lower cost. We have developed human albumin independently and will continue to develop the product for large scale manufacturing and clinical testing. At this time, we have not entered into any contractual agreements although that possibility clearly exists. It is too early to predict when our albumin will reach the market, but we intend to direct our resources toward this end."
Genentech is a leader in the development of recombinant DNA products for the pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial-chemical markets. Four health care products developed by Genentech-- leukocyte A interferon, leukocyte D interferon, human insulin and human growth hormone-- are already in advanced stages of therapeutic investigations. Recently, the Company announced successful production of human immune interferon and human calcitonin.
The Company's headquarters are located at 460 Point San Blvd., South San Francisco, California.
# # #