MONTREAL, Canada and CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom , June 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX:PLI) ("ProMetic") announces that Octapharma AG ("Octapharma"), one of the World's leading plasma fractionators and manufacturer of Octaplas(R) (Solvent/Detergent treated plasma), is sponsoring a Symposium during the 30th International Congress of the International Society of Blood Transfusion ("ISBT") meeting being held in Macao SAR, China . The Symposium is entitled "Prion safety and Transfusion Plasma" and will have some of the world leading authorities in Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy ("TSE") disease research presenting data on the utility of Pathogen Removal and Diagnostics Technologies Inc.'s ("PRDT") prion removal resin technology in this application.
The use of PRDT's proprietary ligand technology, which is licensed exclusively to ProMetic, ensures the removal of any abnormal prion proteins that may be present in donated plasma. This additional process will add another level of safety to the already established treatment protocols and is particularly relevant since there is no commercially available diagnostic test for detection of the blood-borne form of the vCJD agent.
"Over the past several months, we have forged an excellent working relationship with Octapharma," stated Dr. Steve Burton , Chief Executive Officer of ProMetic's U.K. division. "We are now concluding the scale-up phase of the development program and are extremely excited about the future potential of the product".
"We are pleased with the progress made during the development and scale-up phase of the program," stated Mr. Tor-Einar Svae , Director International Market Access, Octapharma PPGmbH. "The affinity resin product performs well in our manufacturing process and we look forward to a lasting relationship with our colleagues at ProMetic".
"The implementation of PRDT's prion removal resin into the manufacturing process of Octaplas(R) to further improve the prion safety margin documented for this biopharmaceutical is regarded as a natural product lifecycle evolution, according to both our Company's pathogen safeguarding policy and regulatory guidelines in force," underlined Kim Bjornstrup, Deputy Chairman of the Octapharma Group.
"Publication of data on the utility of the prion removal resin by Octapharma is testimony to the efficacy of the product manufactured by ProMetic," commented Mr. Pierre Laurin , ProMetic's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We commend Octapharma for taking a proactive stance against vCJD by investigation of a further safety feature to their process".
The PRDT prion removal technology is presently being used in the P-Capt(R) prion filter, CE marked in September 2006 , and marketed by MacoPharma for the elimination of TSEs such as vCJD in red blood cell concentrates.
About Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ("vCJD") is a fatal central nervous system disorder which incubates without symptoms for ten years or more before beginning an inexorable clinical progression to death over a 6 to 24 months period. vCJD first appeared in 1996 following a massive exposure of the UK population to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ("BSE"; 'Mad Cow Disease') contaminated meat and other bovine products during the previous decade. So far, most of the infections have occurred in children and young adults who accumulate characteristic depositions of misfolded prion proteins in their brains and other nervous tissues. The death of neurons gives a sponge-like appearance to the brain. Even though the first wave of vCJD cases has peaked, scientists remain concerned that other peaks will follow. This is because the first cases were from a single genetic subgroup of the prion protein that appears to have a shorter incubation time than other prion genotypes. Infections in these other genotypes may still be incubating. A survey of surgically removed tissues analyzed for abnormal prion protein estimated a minimum of 3,800 asymptomatic vCJD carriers in the UK. The number could be much larger. vCJD carriers appear normal and donate blood with the same frequency as the general population. So far there have been four recognized cases of transmission of vCJD by transfusion of blood donated by persons incubating the disease. Transfusion transmission appears to be highly efficient in humans and animals. The 2006 National CJD Surveillance Unit report concluded that "the incidence of vCJD may increase again, particularly if different genetic subgroups are found but with longer incubation periods". Abnormal prion proteins are an essential component of vCJD infectivity and may be the only component. The adsorption of prion proteins by PRDT ligands removes vCJD infectivity.