iBio (NYSE AMERICAN:IBIO) advanced its collaboration with closely-held AzarGen Biotechnologies by initiating development of a plant-made rituximab for the South African market.
iBio previously used its FastPharming system to develop AzarGen’s surfactant protein therapeutic through an initial assessment of production feasibility, which was completed in May 2017.
Now, under the same accord, iBio will manufacture research quantities of a plant-made rituximab for AzarGen of South Africa. Following batch production, the drug product candidate will undergo testing via iBio CDMO’s bioanalytical services.
The FDA approved rituximab in 1997 as a treatment for certain B cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Since that time, its clinical uses have expanded to encompass treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as well as a range of autoimmune diseases, including certain types of rheumatoid arthritis.
“After demonstrating the success of our platform through our opening project with AzarGen, we are now advancing to the next stage of the two companies’ collaboration,” Robert Kay, iBio’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Dr. Mauritz Venter, AzarGen’s CEO, said, “As we continue to move toward the initiation of advanced pre-clinical activities, we are confident that iBio CDMO is ideally suited to provide us with the requisite long-term process development and cGMP manufacturing support.”
“Focusing on accessibility and affordability of biological medicine for the African continent, we look forward to initiating additional projects with iBio as we progress,” Dr. Venter added.