Safflower-based insulin optioned

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A Calgary biotech company using genetically modified safflower plants to make insulin will get US$2.5 million for the option to buy the rights to its end product.

MannKind, a Los Angeles-area pharmaceutical firm developing an “ultra-rapid acting” insulin product, announced last month it will buy the option to license rights to SemBioSys Genetics’ plant-produced insulin.

The option, if exercised, would stipulate that the “primary use” of SemBioSys’ safflower insulin would be for Afresa, MannKind’s rapid-acting insulin. Afresa, now in “phase 3” clinical studies, is a pulmonary insulin that would be inhaled through a palm-sized device.

SemBioSys’ safflower insulin is now in “phase I/II” clinical trials. Its latest study aims to show the “bioequivalence” of safflower-produced insulin to two commercial insulin standards.

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