Research at the University of Oxford's Glycobiology Institute (OGBI) has
led to the development of `state-of-the-art' platform technologies for the
analysis of oligosaccharides (sugars) that are linked to proteins and
lipids. These enabling technologies have had major impacts worldwide on
drug discovery programmes, have enabled robust procedures to be developed
for the quality control of biopharmaceutical production, and have been
widely adopted by the pharmaceutical industry.
Professor Neil Barclay and Dr Nick Hutchings established Everest Biotech
Ltd in 2000 in response to the increasing demand for high quality
antibodies within the research community. This successful spin-out company
has since become a major power in antibody research and production, a
position reflected by its portfolio of more than 6,000 antibodies
recognising human, mouse and rat proteins, and the generation of 60 new
antibodies each month. With offices in the UK and Nepal, Everest Biotech
Ltd also benefits one of the poorest communities in the world by providing
additional income to hundreds of farmers in the Nepalese foothills.
Stem cells play an important role in drug discovery and development of
therapeutic interventions. Differentiation (and maintenance) of stem cells
into specialised cells is achieved by controlled application of specific,
expensive growth factors.
Dr Hyvönen has developed an efficient method for producing highly
purified, bioactive human growth factors from E.coli, reducing
costs by up to 10-FOLD. tHE TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN LICENSED TO A major
international manufacturer of growth factors (PeproTech Inc.), and to a
UK-based specialist stem cell company (CellGS Ltd), enabling them to
implement new products and business strategies. Through a departmental
facility, material is also being sold to external companies and Cambridge
Stem Cell Consortium members. In addition, Dr Hyvönen has made his
expertise available to biotech companies through consultancy.
Essex research identified a novel bioprocessing matrix which has since
been developed into
commercial products and recently launched into external markets by Porvair
Filtration Group Ltd.
The discovery involved the chemical modification of sintered thermoplastic
materials in order to
attach biological molecules, so conferring highly specific functionalised
properties to an otherwise
inert base material. This enabled a new approach for protein
immobilisation, having technical and
practical advantages over existing processes. As a direct result, Porvair
has adopted a new
technology and invested £900k in R&D over eight years. Essex research
has supported a change
in business strategy, enabling entry into new markets, which has in turn
both safeguarded and
created jobs at Porvair.
Carol Robinson's research at the University of Oxford in the mid-1990s
led directly to her proposing a new type of mass spectrometer to enable
more detailed analyses of larger molecular assemblies than previously
possible. The design is marketed worldwide by Micromass UK Ltd (part of
Waters Corporation), generating a new area of research within industry and
academia in which intact protein complexes can be analysed by mass
spectrometry and the chemistry of small molecules and drugs bound to them
investigated, thus contributing to the search for novel pharmaceuticals.
Since 2008, Waters' successful commercialisation of the new technology has
led to sales worth many millions of dollars.
Kinases, the enzymes that catalyse phosphorylation events, have been
implicated in hundreds of different diseases, and hold rich promise for
drug development. In 1998, The University of Dundee developed the first
systematic assay to analyse the selectivity of protein kinase inhibitors,
termed `kinase profiling'. This technology has been crucial for the
development of new therapeutic drugs targeting protein kinases. In order
to promote drug discovery in the area of kinases, the Division of Signal
Transduction Therapy (DSTT) was formed and provides a unique collaboration
between the University and six of the world's leading pharmaceutical
Proteins are fundamental to life and to many drugs, vaccines and new
types of applied medicine
with engineered cells. For this work, it is often essential to tag
proteins to enable their identification
and purification. The V5 tag, which was developed in St Andrews, is used
very widely in this role
and has some key advantages over alternatives.
Key impacts are:
Research by Smales has led to IP that protects novel technologies for
cell line development. Based upon mass spectrometry and in silico
modelling approaches, the
technology has permitted the development of highly efficient cell lines
for monoclonal antibody
production in the commercial environment at Lonza Biologics. This IP has
three important benefits
to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries:
(a) It allows key biopharmaceuticals to be made using substantially less
resource and with an
overall higher efficiency.
(b) It reduces the time from transfection to production of cell banks.
(c) It accelerates bioreactor evaluation and the ability to predict cell
line performance at the
bioreactor scale early in cell line construction.
Bacillus species constitute an industrially-important group of
bacteria that are used worldwide to produce carbohydrate and
protein-digesting enzymes on a large scale. While the bacteria secrete
native enzymes at an economically viable rate, generating strains of
bacteria that could do the same for non-native enzymes has been an
industry challenge. Researchers at Newcastle University have collaborated
with industry since the early 1990s to study the mechanism of protein
secretion in Bacillus. They discovered bottlenecks in the protein
secretion pathway and used that knowledge to engineer more productive
strains of bacteria. Since 2008, companies, including Novozymes (the
world's largest manufacturer of industrial enzymes), have developed
strains of bacteria, based on the Newcastle findings, for use in their
manufacturing processes improving yields by more than four orders of
magnitude in some cases.
The protein research of Imperial's Mass Spectrometry group led to the
development of Mass Mapping /Fingerprinting for rapid protein
characterisation, and new methods for disulphide bridge and glycosylation
assignment. Commercialising these discoveries, the company M-SCAN has
developed methods to accelerate industrial research and commercialisation
of the next generation of recombinant drug therapies, such as monoclonal
antibodies targeting cancers. M-SCAN is the pioneer of Biopharmaceutical
Characterisation. It has influenced the regulatory advice and, in the past
ten years, has assisted many hundreds of companies worldwide in developing
their products for market, leading to the growth of a profitable business.
In 2010, SGS S.A., a multinational company that provides inspection,
verification, testing and certification services, acquired M-SCAN for an
undisclosed sum, satisfying SGS's vision to become one of the top players
within the Biologics testing arena.