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Laboratories buys UI-licensed virtual biotechnology company
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. The
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign today announced the sale
of a UI-licensed virtual biotechnology company to Abbott Laboratories
for $7 million. The company, BioDisplay Technologies Inc., was founded
to commercialize technology that dramatically shortens the time it takes
to discover various drugs that can be tested for their potential therapeutic
The technology was developed by former UI chemical engineering professor
K. Dane Wittrup (now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology),
UI biochemistry professor David M. Kranz, and their graduate students
beginning in 1996.
"We are delighted that Abbott Laboratories is our partner in this
venture," said Chancellor Nancy Cantor. "Abbott has more than
1,000 Illinois alumni on its roster and the world-class expertise to
realize the potential of yeast-display technology. The university looks
forward to further collaboration with Abbott."
The yeast-display methodology uses a process called flow cytometry that
provides high-through-put screening, which in turn speeds the process
of directed drug discovery.
"Yeast display allows us to genetically engineer improved proteins
and antibodies as candidate pharmaceuticals that can target specific
diseases with far fewer side effects," Kranz said. "By expressing
the antibody on the surface of a yeast cell, we can create a library
of a million different mutated antibodies in days, and then pull out
the best ones."
BioDisplay Technologies was incorporated by the researchers in 1998
to further develop and license the patented technology. Under the terms
of the purchase agreement, Abbott will also sublicense the technology
to other companies for various applications, including human health,
agriculture and industrial enzymes.
"We are very pleased to have acquired this cutting-edge technology
platform in the development of fully human antibodies by bringing viable
drug candidates to the pipeline faster, leading to more effective therapies
for patients," said Robert Kamen, divisional vice president of
Pharmaceutical Discovery, Abbott Laboratories, and president of Abbott
Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based health care company devoted
to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals,
nutritionals, and medical products, including devices and diagnostics.
The company employs approximately 70,000 people and markets its products
in more than 130 countries. Abbotts news releases and other information
are available on the companys Web site: www.abbott.com.