NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Geron and Exeter Life Sciences said today that Start Licensing, a joint venture between the two firms, and ViaGen, a subsidiary of Exeter, have merged to form a new entity that will focus on animal cloning.
Start manages and licenses a portfolio of intellectual property rights related to animal reproductive technologies, including nuclear transfer cloning technology that was developed at the Roslin Foundation to clone Dolly the sheep. ViaGen is an animal genomics and livestock cloning firm.
Geron and Exeter said that the merger of the firms combines the “full breadth” of Start’s nuclear transfer cloning IP with ViaGen’s in-house breeding services and expertise in advanced reproductive technologies, including cloning, “to provide a one-stop licensing and operating company” for animal cloning.
"We believe it makes sound business sense to join a patent estate for nuclear transfer that has been tested and is recognized as dominant with a leading operating company in the field," said David Greenwood, Geron's executive vice president and CFO, in a statement.
Jonathan Thatcher, Exeter Life Science's CEO, said that the combined firm will allow customers to either secure a license to practice or contract cloning services.
Geron and Exeter said that cloning livestock can incorporate positive genetic traits into herds much more rapidly than conventional breeding and artificial insemination.
The companies stressed that products from cloned livestock are as safe as those from conventionally bred animals, citing a study from the US Food and Drug Administration that concluded that “meat and milk from cattle, pigs and goats produced by nuclear transfer, and the naturally reproduced offspring of clones, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred domestic livestock.”