Our blog has been somewhat neglected recently, but that was for a good reason. SARomics Biostructures entered an expansive phase and things started to move so quickly that we simply did not have much time to write blog content. However, this is about to change. Keeping our communication channels open with present and future customers is essential for the company’s main goal, which was set by the Board and Management group. This goal can be described by a single word – expansion! And while talking about expansion, we need to look back, namely at 2017. Last year may also be described by one single word – fantastic! The company employed four new people, new services were introduced, and many new customers found their way to us.
Perhaps one of the most exciting moments was that our newly introduced weak affinity chromatography (WAC) fragment library screening services really started to give results – with the introduction of WAC our integrated drug discovery platform was “discovered” by big pharma as well as smaller biotech companies. We believe that the new screening technology, in combination with the extensive biophysical competence at SARomics Biostructures, will pave the way for us to attack certain classes of drug targets with high innovative potential, notoriously known for the difficulties associated with the identification of new hits/inhibitors against them. Together with our close partner, Red Glead Discovery, we have now full capacity to successfully run integrated drug discovery project starting from a fragment hits all the way to a lead compound.
Our screening capabilities, which also include a number of biophysical methods among which is protein NMR spectroscopy, are highly complementary to WAC and may be used, e.g., for the characterization of the binding site and detailed analysis of protein-ligand interactions.
The introduction of biosimilar testing services, which are based on recent advances in NMR spectroscopy, is another milestone in the continuous efforts to develop our services. The use of NMR in the characterization of biosimilars has been made possible after new method developments that allow unique fingerprint representation of the 3D conformation of large molecules like biologics to be acquired, without expensive isotope labeling. By directly matching the NMR fingerprint of a given protein to its high-resolution three-dimensional structure (known e.g. from X-ray crystallography), we can rapidly assess comparability of a biosimilar and its originator, or different batches of the same biologic. These services are of high value for customers, since biosimilar registration is more expensive than registration of generic small molecule drugs, and requires advanced product characterization. With the current growth of the biologics/biosimilars market, we believe that the demand for these services will see considerable growth in the coming years.
In addition to the biosimilar testing services, we have “officially” introduced crystallization of antigen-antibody complexes. Although we have been doing this for a while and have accumulated extensive experience within the area, we never had a separate page on our web site dedicated to these services. For simplicity and convenience, we have now a separate description of these services for our clients.
Our most popular crystallography services pipeline has also been upgraded –our off-the-shelf FastLane Premiumand FastLane standardlibraries have been complemented with a number of new structures.
Normally the crystallography services pipeline is used for co-crystallization of the protein in question with the client’s ligand (most often a set of ligands). In the case of gene-to-structure projects, we clone, express, purify and crystallize the protein. In the case of FastLane Premium structures, we normally have the protein stored in the lab and crystallization drops can be set up essentially immediately after the arrival of the ligands. For the FastLane Standard library we have the construct and verified protocols for expression, purification and crystallization of the proteins. In some cases it has taken us only about two weeks from signing the contract with the customer to the three-dimensional structure of the protein complex.
It is well known that the CRO market is in a state of constant expansion. Most small-to-mid-size biotech companies typically lack structural biology capabilities, and often even biophysical competence, since core competences at these companies are normally focused in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology. SARomics Biostructures’ technology platform is well prepared for meeting these needs by providing reliable data at the best quality level.