This excerpt taken from the SNY 6-K filed Mar 27, 2008.
malaria patients each year -
San Francisco, CA, Emeryville, CA & Paris, France, March 3, 2008 The Institute for OneWorld Health (iOWH), the US-based nonprofit pharmaceutical company, together with synthetic biology innovator Amyris Biotechnologies, and leading pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis today announced they have entered into an agreement for the development of semisynthetic artemisinin, a key ingredient in first-line malaria treatments. This partnership will build on technology originated by Professor Jay Keasling at the University of California, Berkeley.
This collaboration aims to create a complementary source of non-seasonal, high-quality and affordable artemisinin to supplement the current botanical supply, thereby enabling millions of people infected with malaria to gain consistent access to lower-cost, life-saving artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Under the terms of the agreement, OneWorld Health, Amyris and sanofi-aventis will work jointly to develop and design pilot and commercial scale manufacturing processes, with the goal of introducing low-cost, semisynthetic artemisinin into the supply chain and ACTs in 2010.
We are delighted to expand this partnership to build on the ground-breaking innovations of the University of California, Berkeley and Amyris Biotechnologies, said Nina E. Grove, OneWorld Healths Vice President for Commercial Planning & Strategy. Sanofi-aventis historic commitment to the fight against malaria, its technical capabilities and the track record of its Access to Medicines program make them an ideal partner for this next phase of product development.
OneWorld Health, UC Berkeley, and Amyris have been working together as the Artemisinin Project since late 2004 to develop a new, low-cost technology platform to produce artemisinin a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. UC Berkeley professor Jay Keasling, the originator of the technology, initially identified the genetic pathway and developed a microbial system that produces artemisinin via fermentation. After successfully completing its scientific responsibilities in the Artemesinin Project, U.C. Berkeley continues to license the technology to OneWorld Health and Amyris for further product development and ultimate use in ACTs for the treatment of malaria. Sanofi-aventis, which has extensive experience in the field of malaria drugs, will be the newest partner in this collaboration to increase global access to ACTs.
Sanofi-aventis and Amyris are among the most advanced companies in synthetic biology, said Paul Baduel, Director, Process Development Biotechnology of sanofi-aventis. Sanofi-aventis Process Development teams in biotechnology and chemistry are proud to be involved in the design of an industrial process for the production of artemisinin.
Amyris will provide strain engineering expertise using the novel tools of synthetic biology. Sanofi-aventis will provide fermentation and chemistry process development expertise, and OneWorld Health will focus on the achievement of public policy and global access goals. If technical benchmarks are achieved, sanofi-aventis will commercialize the semisynthetic artemisinin.
This collaboration enables us to reach a goal that some scientists only dream of, said Jack Newman, founder and Senior Vice President of Amyris. What started as breakthrough in the lab can now evolve into a real solution that will truly make a difference in the world.
If it reaches commercial-scale, this alternative source of artemisinin would supplement the supply that is currently extracted from the botanical source Sweet Wormwood plant (Artemisia annua) and produce enough artemisinin for ACTs to treat up to 200 million of the more than 500 million estimated individuals who contract malaria each year. This complementary source of supply would improve the availability of high-quality artemisinin derivatives to drug manufacturers and contribute to stabilizing the price of artemisinin-containing antimalarials to benefit patients and payers.
The World Health Organization recommends using ACTs as a first-line treatment for malaria in regions where the usual first-line treatments for malaria are no longer effective because of increasing drug resistance. Malaria is responsible for more than one million deaths annually.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded OneWorld Health a five-year grant of $42.6 million in December 2004 to manage a research and development collaboration with Amyris and Dr. Jay Keasling of UC Berkeley to utilize the techniques of synthetic biology to develop a new technology platform for producing artemisinin and its derivatives.