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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Cloning business closes down
PPL created genetically altered
PPL created genetically altered "double-knockout" pigs
The company that created Dolly the sheep is shutting down part of its cloning business to focus on more profitable markets.

PPL Therapeutics has decided to shut down its stem cell research programme, based at Roslin near Edinburgh, after failing to find a buyer.

The biotechnology company still hopes to sell off its xenotransplantation arm, which was responsible for the birth of "double-knockout" pigs last month.

The piglets had been genetically altered by the Edinburgh-based group so their organs could be received by humans.

Dolly the Sheep
PPL cloned Dolly the Sheep

Scottish-based PPL Therapeutics said it had created the first so-called "double knock-out" pigs, genetically-engineered to lack both copies of a gene which causes rejection.

PPL revealed its intention to sell its regenerative medicine cloning business earlier this year after sinking millions of pounds into the project.

Chief executive Geoff Cook wants to concentrate on developing new protein treatments for lung disease and cystic fibrosis.

He said: "We are in the business of getting returns for our shareholders and the protein side has a much greater chance of getting these.

"The advances we have made in regenerative medicine are scientific and we are some 10 years away from market."

"We have had a lot of interest in xenotransplantation and hope to announce a sale by the end of the year."

Clinical trial

About six staff will be made redundant at the stem cell programme, which was working on treatments for diabetes.

Results showed PPL cut pre-tax losses back to 6.4m in the six months to June 30 from 7.4m in the same period a year ago.

It said the reduction was down to a sharp fall in administration expenses and a 400,000 drop in external clinical trial costs.

PPL expects its first protein-based product, a sealant that can be used in surgical procedures, to be available in three years.

Its main product, the production of a treatment for emphysema from the milk of GM sheep, should be launched in 2007.

See also:

22 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
03 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
03 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
14 Aug 02 | Health
24 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
04 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
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