WSU Cougar Head Logo Washington State University
WSU Insider
News and Information for Faculty, Staff, and the WSU Community

Cancer research licensing agreement announced

PULLMAN – Washington State University and Exelixis Plant Sciences, Inc., have entered a commercial licensing agreement covering patent rights and biological materials for use of plant cell cultures in the production of paclitaxel and other valuable taxane products used in cancer treatments.

The rights granted by the WSU Research Foundation under the this commercial license are related to pioneering discoveries made by Rodney Croteau, a fellow in WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry and a scientist in the Agricultural Research Center.

Because they suppress cell division, paclitaxel and other taxanes are important therapeutic compounds for the treatment of cancer and other the diseases. The market for paclitaxel and newer generation, taxane active ingredients is large and growing.

Currently, the supply of paclitaxel or taxane intermediates is largely derived from the harvest of Yew trees. Cell culture holds the potential for an environmentally friendly, less capital intensive and more reliable method of production that can generate large quantities of paclitaxel and taxane intermediates at costs significantly lower than those of current tree-harvest methods.

“This technology represents decades of effort from Dr. Croteau and his paclitaxel research team at Washington State University,” said Keith Jones, executive director of the WSU Research Foundation. “We are pleased to take the science to the next level in the commercial development by partnering with EPS. We believe our research has potential to have a major impact on paclitaxel production methods.”

 “There is a clear need for efficient, reliable and environmentally responsible methods of production of important natural products such as taxanes,” said D. Ry Wagner, vice president of research, plant genetics and biotechnology at Exelixis Plant Sciences. “With this agreement, EPS has taken a significant step toward meeting that need.”

Exelixis Plant Sciences, Inc., is a leader in utilizing “plants as factories” to produce high value compounds that occur naturally in plant cells. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelixis, Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif.

Next Story

Recent News

Find More News

Subscribe for more updates