Large Scale Biology Corp., a pioneer in transgenic plant-based therapeutic proteins and vaccines, has become the latest casualty in the field of ?pharming,? or producing therapeutic proteins, antibodies, and vaccines from transgenic plants. After running out of funds in late December, the company dismissed all 78 staff members in Vacaville, Ca. and 23 employees from its commercial-scale biomanufacturing facility in Owensboro, Ky. ? and left analysts speculating about the future of the shrinking field.?Pharmaceutical and biotech companies have enough risk taking a new drug through the approval process. To add to that an as-yet unproven plant-based technology is not something they are willing to do,? said Roger Wyse, managing director of Burrill and Co., a San Francisco-based life sciences venture capital firm. ?That?s adding risk on top of risk,? he told The Scientist.In the 1990s, the concept of pharming held great appeal to drug and biotech companies, scientists, and investors...
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