Monday, May 17, 1982
South San Francisco, Calif. -- May 17, 1982 --Genentech, Inc. and Mitsubishi Chemical Industries, Ltd., Japan's largest chemical company, announced today they had signed an agreement to commercialize the first human protein developed by genetic engineering. Human serum albumin, a product used in treating trauma patients, was successfully produced in micro-organisms by Genentech scientists last year.
Wataru Yamaya, Director of Mitsubishi's Life Sciences Division, said, "Albumin is a large volume product administered through transfusion and requiring the highest level of purity. We will cooperate with Genentech, upon completion of research and development, in the scaling up and manufacturing processes. The success of our joint work will give evidence to the fact that genetic engineering has progressed beyond a craftsman's art to a modern mass production technology."
Albumin is presently obtained from blood bank donors. This requires large capital costs and complex coordination between donor centers. Periodic shortages affect availability worldwide.
Robert Swanson, Genentech president and chief executive officer, said "nearly every country in the world is concerned about maintaining adequate supplies of albumin. We believe this cooperative effort with Mitsubishi will accelerate product development so that by the mid-eighties we can supply albumin to meet world needs."
Swanson said that, as part of the agreement, Mitsubishi would fund specific stages of research and receive exclusive marketing rights for albumin in Japan. "We are continuing discussions aimed at expanding the existing relationship to encompass the world market for albumin, possibly through formation of a jointly owned company", he said.
Current world wide consumption of albumin is estimated to be over 100 tons per year, a market of over $500 million. Albumin is administered to patients suffering trauma such as burns and shock and may be given during and after surgery.
Mitsubishi has expanded its specialty chemical business to include pharmaceutical, food processing and environmental protection divisions. Genentech, Inc. is a leader in the application of recombinant DNA (genetic engineering) technology for the pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial chemical markets.
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