We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of recombinant therapeutic proteins based on our proprietary ProCellExTM protein expression system, or ProCellEx. Using our ProCellEx system, we are developing a pipeline of proprietary and biosimilar or “generic” versions of recombinant therapeutic proteins based on our plant cell-based expression technology that target large, established pharmaceutical markets and that rely upon known biological mechanisms of action. Our initial commercial focus has been on complex therapeutic proteins, including proteins for the treatment of genetic disorders, such as Gaucher disease and Fabry disease. We believe our ProCellEx protein expression system will enable us to develop proprietary recombinant proteins that are therapeutically equivalent or superior to existing recombinant proteins currently marketed for the same indications. Because we are primarily targeting biologically equivalent versions of highly active, well-tolerated and commercially successful therapeutic proteins, we believe our development process is associated with relatively less risk compared to other biopharmaceutical development processes for completely novel therapeutic proteins.
Our lead product development candidate is prGCD (designated this year as taliglucerase alfa) for the treatment of Gaucher disease, which we are developing using our ProCellEx protein expression system. Gaucher disease is a rare and serious lysosomal storage disorder with severe and debilitating symptoms. Taliglucerase alfa is our proprietary recombinant form of glucocerebrosidase (GCD), an enzyme naturally found in human cells that is mutated or deficient in patients with Gaucher disease. In July 2007, we reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, on the final design of our pivotal phase III clinical trial of taliglucerase alfa, through the FDA’s special protocol assessment (SPA) process. The phase III clinical trial was completed in September 2009 and, on October 15, 2009, we announced positive top-line results from the trial. On December 9, 2009, we filed a New Drug Application (NDA) for taliglucerase alfa. In January 2010, the FDA requested additional data regarding the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) section of the NDA. No additional clinical or preclinical information was requested. The FDA’s request focused primarily on the validation of the manufacturing process for our upgraded manufacturing facility. A validation plan for our manufacturing process of taliglucerase alfa has already been established and reviewed by the FDA. We are working diligently to provide the requested data to the FDA and anticipate submitting the requested data during the second quarter of 2010. In addition, we expect to submit similar applications with other comparable regulatory agencies in other countries during 2010.
The Orphan Drug designation for taliglucerase alfa for the treatment of Gaucher Disease provides special status to taliglucerase alfa provided that it meets certain criteria. As a result of the orphan designation, we are qualified for the tax credit and marketing incentives provided under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. A marketing application for a prescription drug product that has been designated as a drug for a rare disease or condition is not subject to a prescription drug user fee unless the application includes an indication for other than a rare disease or condition.
On November 30, 2009, Protalix Ltd. and Pfizer Inc., or Pfizer, entered into an exclusive license and supply agreement pursuant to which Pfizer was granted an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize taliglucerase alfa. Under the terms and conditions of the Pfizer agreement, Protalix Ltd. retained the right to commercialize taliglucerase alfa in Israel. In connection with the execution of the Pfizer agreement, Pfizer made an upfront payment to Protalix Ltd. of $60.0 million in connection with the execution of the agreement and subsequently paid to Protalix Ltd. an additional $5.0 million upon our filing of a proposed pediatric investigation plan to the Pediatric Committee of the EMEA. Protalix Ltd. is also eligible to receive potential milestone payments of up to $50.0 million, in the aggregate, for the successful achievement of other regulatory-related milestones and to payments equal to 40% of the net profits earned by Pfizer on sales of taliglucerase alfa. In calculating the net profits, there are certain agreed upon limits on the amounts that may be deducted from gross sales for certain expenses and costs of goods sold. Protalix Ltd. retained the manufacturing rights to taliglucerase alfa and Pfizer and Protalix Ltd. have agreed to a specific allocation of the responsibilities for the continued development efforts for taliglucerase alfa.
ProCellEx is our proprietary production system that we have developed based on our plant cell culture technology for the development, expression and manufacture of recombinant proteins. Our expression system consists of a comprehensive set of capabilities and proprietary technologies, including advanced genetic engineering and plant cell culture technology, which enables us to produce complex, proprietary and biologically equivalent proteins for a variety of human diseases. Our protein expression system facilitates the creation and selection of high expressing, genetically stable cell lines capable of expressing recombinant proteins. The entire protein expression process, from initial nucleotide cloning to large-scale production of the protein product, occurs under cGMP-compliant, controlled processes.
Our Pipeline Drug Candidates
Our Lead Product Candidate, Taliglucerase Alfa
Taliglucerase alfa, our lead proprietary product candidate, is a plant cell expressed recombinant glucocerebrosidase enzyme (GCD) for the treatment of Gaucher disease. In July 2007, we reached an agreement with the FDA on the final design of our pivotal phase III clinical trial of taliglucerase alfa through the FDA’s special protocol assessment (SPA) process. We successfully completed our phase III pivotal clinical trial of taliglucerase alfa in September 2009 and announced positive top line results of the clinical trial in October 2009 and full study results in February 2010. We submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA in December 2009. In January 2010, the FDA requested additional data regarding the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) section of the NDA. No additional clinical or preclinical information was requested.