The Robotic Cloud Laboratory for the Life Sciences: Transcriptic

September 20, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

Transcriptic LogoBy Natalie Foote, Director of Service Provider Operations, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

 

In this Provider Innovation Profile, we’re proud to feature Transcriptic, whose automated cellular and molecular biology platform enables scalable life science research with flexibility and precision.

Automation is a rapidly advancing area of biotechnology, and Science Exchange hopes to give our researchers access to unique robotics platforms while helping them save on equipment costs and manage laboratory space limitations.

Transcriptic’s robotic cloud lab paradigm means biologists can be running experiments on the other side of the planet from their lab, leveraging a bank of robotic workcells for massive experimentation.

Transcriptic frees researchers to focus on the creative aspects of their science by providing faster, more reliable and repeatable processes with vastly lower capital costs than previously possible.

Differentiators: Transparency, flexibility, multiplex-ity

Transcriptic Robotic Workcell

Multiple integrated automated devices per workcell

  • Transparency: No other service provider on the planet can tell you exactly how they run an experiment on the user’s behalf. Transcriptic provides deep transparency into how users’ experiments were run by executing experiments exactly as specified and also providing retrospective diagnostic data on individual instrument performance during the experiment.
  • Flexible robotics: Being a robotic cloud lab, the Transcriptic system can dynamically provision robotic resources to process samples for users. For example, the system might start the week at a scale of one plate and end the week on hundreds of plates. Users only pay for the resources they use, reaping the reproducibility and throughput benefits of robotics without any of the overhead.
  • Easy multiplexing: The Transcriptic web application makes it easy as checking a box to detect an additional analyte in your sample. When it’s that easy, you can perform multiplexed quantiation of more analytes, starting to generate a more accurate picture of the phenotypic state of your sample.

Featured Service: Mesocale Discovery (MSD) Assay

The MSD assay, validated in many bioanalytical methods per U.S. FDA and EMA guidances, is offered as a service by Transcriptic. The Mesoscale Discovery Sector S 600 instrument is fully integrated with the Transcriptic robotic cloud lab.

The MSD S 600 instrument performs multiplexed detection of up to 10 analytes per well, ensuring the highest data-to-sample quantity efficiency, in immunoassays. Multiple assay panels are available from the V-Plex line, all conducted with complete automated precision by robots in the cloud. Custom panel assays are also available through the MSD U-Plex system.

Why requesters choose Transcriptic

Transcriptic, in collaboration with multiple biopharma companies and non-academic laboratories, has delivered many peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Transcriptic presented one interesting study at SynBioBeta 2016. In collaboration with EpiBiome, Transcriptic’s automated platform provided a robust, reproducible and high-throughput method for on-demand microbiome characterization. This workflow captured sample prep through NGS and sequencing analysis in 7-10 days, allowing for fast, iterative cycles of microbiome screening.

Visit the Transcriptic storefront today to request some quotes!

 

New on Science Exchange: Nobel-worthy Nanosensors, MacroDSF, Fluidigm, and More

August 22, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

Nobel-worthy nanosensors

In 2007, Charles Lieber, the Harvard scientist who many say is in the running for a Nobel prize, co-founded Vista NanoBioSciences to enable drug discovery researchers to use his team’s nanosensor technologies for label-free, ultrasensitive detection of proteins, nucleic acids, and even single viral particles.

Functionalized Nanowires Vista NanoBioSciences

Vista NanoBioSciences’ ultrasensitive biomarker detection platform (left) uses functionalized nanowires (“NW”) that respond to interactions with individual biomolecules.

Vista NanoBioSensor

Now available through Science Exchange, Vista NanoBioSciences offers biomarker assays using its portable NanoBioSensor™ and BioTracker™ platforms. Vista’s NanoBioSensor precisely detects and measures biomarkers in a finger-stick drop of blood, other bodily fluid, or tissue culture – without labeling and in less than 10 minutes. Vista’s BioTracker provides continuous monitoring of dynamic changes in the targeted analytes of any biological material.  Both devices are portable, exhibiting very high sensitivity (10³ increase over ELISA), high specificity, across multiple logs of concentration, in real time.

Taking the pain out of protein purification with MacroDSF

Empowered by high-throughput protein purification and structure determination technologies, structure-based drug discovery is enjoying a resurgence.

NovAliX, a new provider on the Science Exchange network, gives you access to the ProteoPlex MacroDSF platform, an exciting tool for rapidly optimizing conditions for protein purification and crystallization.

The instrument quickly optimizes  protein concentration, pH value, salt, buffer, stabilizing additive, etc — potentially increasing a purified protein’s stability or even the resolution of its crystal structure!

NovAliX also offers a broad range of biophysical characterization services to provide a complete picture of the protein of interest.

Fluidigm custom assay development

Interested in Fluidigm’s powerful mass cytometry and microfluidics platforms, but lack the resources to design the perfect assay?

Now you can take advantage of Fluidigm’s expertise using the company’s own team of assay development scientists. Through Science Exchange, you can order custom assays for Fluidigm’s CyTOF®, Helios®, and integrated fluidic circuit-based platforms.

Oncology, from ABL1 to ZAP70

Based in Freiburg, Germany, ProQinase has been supporting oncology research for 16 years. Now on Science Exchange, ProQinase offers biochemical assay services (such as kinase screens), cellular assay services (such as proliferation, invasion and spheroid assays), and in vivo assay services (including immuno-oncology and metastasis models).

The scientific staff at ProQinase are thought leaders in oncology research. At the 2017 AACR Annual Meeting, they presented a novel assay platform to distinguish ATP-competitive from non-ATP-competitive kinase inhibitors.

Medicinal chemistry and process optimization

If you’re looking for a full-service laboratory to execute your chemistry projects, you’ll be happy to see the addition of Kalexsyn, a chemical synthesis powerhouse based in Michigan, U.S.A, to the Science Exchange network.

Whether it’s developing novel scaffolds, SAR, modification of complex natural products or challenging macrocyclic peptides, Kalexsyn’s deep bench of Ph.D. chemists provides IP-enabling expertise.

The Kalexsyn team has produced over 1000 publications and patents and has served over 85 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

 

Connect with a new provider today!

Are you new to Science Exchange? See how it works.

In vivo Phenotypic Screening: Melior Discovery

August 19, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Helpful products, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

By Natalie Foote, Director of Service Provider Operations, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

Melior Logo

Phenotypic Screening Pioneer Launches Novel Analgesia Panel

In this Provider Innovation Profile, we’re proud to feature Melior Discovery, a pioneer of in vivo phenotypic screening and a leader in the area of drug repositioning.

Melior’s platform evaluates compounds through up to 40 different animal models representing 14 broad therapeutic areas, potentially uncovering therapeutic efficacy that might be undetected using traditional assessments.

Recently, Melior made the news with its novel opioidTRACE® Analgesic Profiling Platform. Given the need to develop low-abuse analgesics to address the opioid crisis, Melior has configured an in vivo platform aimed at specifically profiling opioid therapeutics and related analgesics.

The opioidTRACE® platform addresses the multiple features characteristic of opioids, including rodent models that evaluate acute analgesia, chronic analgesia, respiratory depression, GI mobility, and abuse liability. In addition to opioid testing, Melior has a wide array of animal models of analgesia ranging models of acute pain to chronic neuropathy models. 

[click to view larger view of opioidTRACE® animal models]Opioid Trace In Vivo Models

Backed by Expertise in In Vivo Screening

Melior’s new panel is just the latest demonstration of the team’s unique know-how in applying “production-mode” methods for in vivo screening across multiple therapeutic areas. Its proprietary theraTRACE® platform enables rapid and cost-effective identification of new therapeutic potential by systematically screening candidates in a diverse array of validated in vivo disease models.

Fibrosis is another disease area for which Melior’s panels have exemplified the utility of in vivo  phenotypic screening. Melior has validated models of liver and lung fibrosis; download the validation data for these models from the Resources section of Melior’s Science Exchange storefront.

Why Requesters are Choosing Melior for In vivo Studies

Melior’s capability directly translates to efficiencies combined with high levels of quality for their clients. Positive ratings and testimonials illustrate the benefits that attract repeat business for Melior:

  • High reproducibility and predictive power of in vivo methodologies, models, and assays assuring high quality of data
  • Lower overall costs resulting from the availability of highly cost effective preclinical services from Melior
  • Rapid responses to requests for service and quick turnaround times for preclinical studies
  • Ability to rapidly customize, design, and modify models in response to requests for specialized in vivo services or changes in protocols or unexpected results at any stage of the study

Dr. Sridharan Rajamani, Senior Research Scientist at Gilead Sciences, said that his team chose Melior Discovery because they were responsive and cost effective.  “We are staying with them as a chosen scientific partner because of their thoughtful scientific input to experimental design and attention to detail,” said Dr. Rajamani. “Their expertise and flexibility allowed us to quickly adapt the study design and evaluate additional outcome measures to pursue unexpected activity.”  

Interested in working with Melior Discovery? Request a quote to start the discussion.

New Service Providers Available on Science Exchange

August 2, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |
Image of Colon Tumor Cells courtesy of OcellO

Image of Colon Tumor Stem Cells courtesy of OcellO

If you aren’t exploring the latest cell culture models of human tissue for nonclinical and preclinical testing, you should be.

That’s the bottom line of today’s Science Exchange service provider roundup — three of the five newest service providers on our platform are experts in developing predictive models.

Advances in predictive model systems

Axiogenesis, based in Germany, develops iPSC-derived models of cardiac tissue, neurons, and other cell types. In late 2016, the company made the news when researchers at the United States FDA published a peer-reviewed study showing that Axiogenesis’s Cor.4U cardiomyocyte model was the most predictive model in cardiac safety tests. Last month, researchers at Wake Forest University used the Cor.4U model to develop a digitally trackable beating-heart biosensor. The future of cardiac safety clearly lies beyond hERG channel electrophysiology!

Generating tissue models with precise spatial resolution is possible using 3D bioprinting, in which Cypre Biotech is an expert. Based in San Francisco, USA, the company focuses on customizing the extracellular matrix of tumor microenvironment models to match certain cancer subtypes. Given the impact of new cancer drugs, including certain immunotherapies, on the tumor microenvironment, technologies such as that developed by Cypre are going to be needed for testing safety and efficacy.

The third service provider in this roundup excelling in the development of clinically relevant microtissue models is OcellO, headquartered in the Netherlands. Researchers at OcellO have published numerous peer-reviewed studies showing how combining three-dimensional tissue culture with high-throughput imaging can enable efficient, automated screening and phenotypic profiling. Their most recent publication showed that phenotypic screening of kinase inhibitors could reveal potential new targets for polycystic kidney disease (view abstract in the Resources section of the OcellO storefront).

Analytical methods for translational research

As model systems advance in complexity and throughput, analytical methods must keep pace. Two service providers new on Science Exchange are known for their expertise in developing reliable analytical methods.

Pangaea Oncology is one of the most prestigious laboratories in the world in the fields of molecular diagnostics, pathology, and related analysis services for translational research. We are thrilled to have the Pangaea team, led by expert Dr. Rafael Rosell and Nobel laureate Dr. Santiago Ramón y Cajal, join the Science Exchange platform! Pangaea Oncology was the first laboratory in Spain to be accredited to perform certain genetic tests for cancer in serum/plasma samples, advancing precision medicine.

We also bring you Metis Laboratories, whose analytical expertise centers on radiotracer-based assays. These assays remain one of the most sensitive and specific platforms for assessing ligand binding and compound distribution; however, complex handling requirements mean that outsourcing these studies is far more practical than developing radiotracer assays in house.

Connect with a new provider today!

Are you new to Science Exchange? See how it works.

Trinity Bioactives – Measuring Bioactivity in Everything

February 7, 2017 | Posted by Team in Lab Profiles |

Trinity Bioactives

We’re pretty sure we can measure the bioactivity of almost anything.

‘Bioactive’ is one of those tricky terms… it can mean many things to many people.

Trinity Bioactive’s definition of it is a compound that does something to living tissue.

Trinity’s expertise is to prove that products such as skin cream, honey-based products, green-lipped mussel powders, oils, and other mostly natural products, ‘do’ something. They use other scientists’ internationally published, peer-reviewed methods to verify that product X has Y effect, which they show as evidence of bioactivity.

Trinity solves the problem of many health product companies and developers of being able to demonstrate that their products work.

To this end, Trinity reckons that it can measure the biological presence and activity of almost anything, if it exists.

Dr Paul Davis

Dr Paul Davis – Research Director and CEO – Trinity Bioactives

Research Director and CEO Paul Davis is tempted to say that there’s no product or extract whose biological activity Trinity can’t measure. But, being the experienced biomedical researcher that he is, he prefers to err on the side of caution.

The Wellington-based laboratory, with satellite offices in Melbourne and Salt Lake City, uses assays or models as a proxy to establish that an extract, mixture, compound or product has biologically active and available properties.

The company’s team is consists mostly of PhD holders, who uses almost 200 assay models to measure a diverse range of biological potencies and efficiencies. Many are cell cultures — stomach cells, tumors, or cell models that measure diabetic or skin responses.

“All of our methodologies are peer-reviewed, and written up and published in reputable international scientific and medical journals,” says Paul. “When we put together our study protocols, we cite the papers the methods are based on.”

The studies consist of mostly natural products including the safety, toxicology, and efficacies of honey, bee propolis, dairy products, green-lipped mussels, traditional medicines, emu oil and other oils, and a number of other raw materials.

Manufacturers of nutraceuticals, functional foods, skin care compounds, over-the-counter internet products, supermarkets, and health food stores are among the global clients for whom Trinity carries out its specialized tests.

These clients include companies:

  • developing new processing methods to improve their products
  • looking for useful functionality from their biological waste streams
  • investigating new activities for existing bioactives and products
  • investigating the possible synergistic effect of combining two or more compounds

“Everything we do is customized to the clients’ requirements,” says Paul. “This is based on a Study Plan; an agreement and approval of what and how we are going to measure a biological presence and response. After the conclusion of the study, a confidential report is supplied back to the client.”

“That’s why our conversations with clients beforehand are so important. We’re aware of the latest regulations out of Europe or the USA, we’re up with the latest modeling research, we appreciate a client wants authentic and verifiable data to provide them with an evidence-led, marketing story.”

Trinity Bioactives Lab

Davis says that the experience, methodologies and consultancy practices developed over the company’s 22-year history are major factors in providing cost-effective proof of bioactivity.

The other advantage of operating in a tightly connected, highly-educated, well-regulated market such as New Zealand is that Trinity Bioactives is able to link into the expertise of other researchers and science providers. These include the universities (including the medical schools), the crown research institutes, other R&D companies and institutions and clinical trials groups. “We have a real concentration of facilities and expertise quite close to us,” says Paul.

“We know what we and others can do, and can tap into that. It means that when someone asks if we can do something, we don’t need to say no, as if it is not in our portfolio, we know someone who can help. We just need a day or two to work on a plan. We almost invariably get back with a way we’d provide scientific evidence and proof of what they wish to validate.”

“From a bioactivity point of view, there’s not much that we or our networks can’t scientifically measure and validate,” says Paul.

“We have expertise, connectivity, and can answer important questions for clients about their products… We realize that our clients are seeking data to assist the marketing of their products and we are happy to assist.”


Would you like to work with Trinity Bioactives on your next project? Trinity Bioactives and thousands of other high-quality service providers look forward to doing business with you on the Science Exchange platform. Request a free quote from any of these service providers today!

AsureQuality

November 21, 2016 | Posted by Team in Lab Profiles |

Science Exchange has top quality service providers located in all parts of the world. Today we’re profiling one of our newest service providers AsureQuality, a New Zealand based provider of food safety and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors worldwide.

Science Exchange correspondent Peter Kerr recently paid a visit to their Lower Hutt laboratory where he caught up with Chief Science Officer (CSO) Dr. Harry van Enckevort.

Global mindset drives Kiwi ‘stamp of approval’ enterprise

AsureQuality

Dr. Harry van Enckevort AsureQuality CSO

How does an organisation from the bottom of the world, excel internationally in verifying and stamping its approval on food quality and safety?

The first answer is because New Zealand exports over 90% of the food it produces, and other countries demand assurances of quality and safety against their market access standards.

The second is through 120 years of experience backed by expertise, professionalism and integrity which sees AsureQuality as its home country’s premier food assurances provider. These attributes also see it with significant operations in Australia, Singapore, China and the Middle East.

AsureQuality’s 1700 people have inherited and continue to develop world-leading inspection, auditing, certification, testing, training, advisory and authentication services.

As a recognised Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) it has a mandate that integrates inspection and certification with testing.

Dr. van Enckevort says food is the State Owned Enterprise’s main focus – giving consumers confidence in what they eat while also protecting the brands of countries and companies.

As well as New Zealand clients, customers include very well known non-NZ multinationals, with some of these brands also in the very sensitive infant formula space.

“AsureQuality also has a key role in New Zealand’s food safety regulatory framework and to do that we have to walk the line between customers and regulators. To achieve it we can’t have conflicts of interest. In practice it means across all AsureQuality services, we have to maintain our independence. We can only do that because we carefully cultivate our expertise, professionalism and integrity.”

Dr. van Enckevort says the organisation is based on a deeply skilled people resource underpinned by its science and technical capabilities.

“We also have a worldwide overview – helping take exports out of New Zealand and bringing global perspectives back home,” he says. “That customer focus is a two-way flow; they lead us and we lead them. If we didn’t there is no way we’d have our global expertise in food quality and safety.”

He says the company instills continual improvement through looking at ourselves and customer feedback and surveys.

“We’re constantly looking at what we need to do to stay relevant and ahead of the game and competition,” Dr van Enckevort says. “We’re always looking to find a better way, challenging our people how we can do things better, faster and smarter while still maintaining the quality of our output. Because there’s always changes in customers and industry as well as customer needs, we have feedback loops and responses.”

A particular point of focus is to add value for a customer beyond mere compliance, not simply ticking a box as part of an audit or certification.

When we give customer feedback in an audit, they might ask what the options are to mitigate the issues, “We say, here are some options – we don’t tell them what to do – they need to make their own call,” he says.

For AsureQuality to still be thriving in five years time, “to still have relevance, we will have to be commercially successful.”

“Our market offering will have to continue to be relevant, and we’ll need to maintain our comparative advantage against our competitors. If we do that we’d like to think we’ll have a larger global presence than we presently do. To achieve that we’ll need to continue to have the right people in the right place with the right expertise and service.”

“So far we’ve met the demands of customers and stakeholders all across the world. By maintaining our core focus on science and technology that is how we will continue to provide the services they want, how we will continue to grow.”

AsureQuality Lab


Would you like to work with AsureQuality on your next project? AsureQuality and thousands of other high quality service providers look forward to doing business with you on the Science Exchange platform. Request a free quote from any of these service providers today!

Technology Spotlight: A new frontier (and a new family) in biomarker discovery

August 14, 2015 | Posted by Keith Osiewicz in Lab Profiles |

Biomarker research is one of the hottest areas of science right now, and it’s easy to see why: finding quicker and easier ways to diagnose and treat human disease is the ambition of researchers, physicians and patients alike. Tissue and blood samples are now frequently collected during clinical trials for downstream analysis of proteins, nucleic acids, and other molecules that can indicate the presence and/or progression of disease. However, researchers everywhere are starting to look at a less popular biofluid as the next horizon in biomarker discovery: urine. For the Pendergrast brothers of Ymir Genomics, urine biomarker research is a family affair.

While proteins have classically been considered the ideal biomarker, microRNAs (miRNAs) are gaining traction as robust indicators of pathology. These small, non-coding RNAs are often misregulated in disease, and changes in their expression patterns can be discerned through microarray or next-generation sequencing techniques. In various biofluids, both proteins and miRNAs are often found complexed with lipids in small, extracellular vesicles knowns as exosomes. These exosomes are shed from cells all over the body, and may be a critical for cell–cell communication.
barchart

Many studies are now finding that the same exosomes and biomarkers present in blood are also found in urine (J. Mol. Cell Card. 2012 53:668; reviewed in Front. Gen. 2013 4:1). Urine has several advantages over plasma: It can be collected noninvasively (no needles! pain free!) and in large quantities. Urine samples are neither infectious nor considered biohazardous, making disposal much easier. While plasma is generally obtained from a single time point, multiple urine samples can be collected over a period of time, allowing for easier monitoring of time-dependent changes in biomarker levels. Also important, proteins and miRNAs are highly stable in urine for long periods of time (Biomark Med. 2013 7:4).

Yet, the issue remains: How do you isolate biomarker-containing exosomes from urine? Many researchers have struggled to answer this question. Enter Ymir Genomics.

Ymir Genomics: Brothers united for biomarkers

Just over two years ago, Ymir Genomics was founded in Cambridge, MA as a partnership between three brothers with distinct skillsets: Dr. Shannon Pendergrast (Chief Scientific Officer), an accomplished molecular biologist; Scott Pendergrast (Chief Executive Officer), a seasoned business leader; and Stephen Pendergrast (Chief Technology Officer), a software development guru. The company has two goals: 1) provide new tools to facilitate the discovery of biomarkers from biofluids such as blood and urine and 2) use these tools to discover novel urine biomarkers to fight human disease.image2

One of their signature discoveries has been a novel method to isolate intact exosomes from human or animal urine, obtaining both high quality proteins and RNAs for use in biomarker analysis. Their method is significantly cheaper, faster and more robust than existing techniques. Pure, high-quality proteins and nucleic acids can be isolated, even from very dilute samples. These samples can then be used for various proteomic and genomic analyses.

Since their start two years ago, Ymir has already been featured in Science, Newsweek, and The Boston Globe. Beyond developing new tools to advance biomarker discovery, Ymir also offers experimental services to researchers, including exosome, miRNA and protein isolation from urine and other biofluids. Additionally, they routinely collaborate with other nearby companies to offer downstream services, such as qPCR or miRNA arrays.

To learn more about the services offered by Ymir, contact them directly through their Science Exchange storefront.

Lab Profile: Ries Robinson from Medici Technologies

December 4, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Lab Profiles |

medici primary color rgbRecently I spoke with Ries Robinson from our lab Medici Technologies. Everything about Medici Technologies is captivating, from the story behind their unique name to their interesting approach to data analysis. Check out more on their specialized approach below!

Q: What is Medici Technologies’ specialty? 

Ries: We analyze data for groups or companies that have data that is so complex that it exceeds their resources. We are a consulting firm that provides expertise in data analysis.

Q: Why did you choose Medici as your name?

Ries: The Medici Effect is the idea that significant breakthroughs in innovation and technology often occur when you cross-pollinate fields. It stems from the Renaissance. For example, a Renaissance family would make the plumber work with the weaver, or someone with a different skill set, and that’s part of what initiated the Renaissance movement.

A lot of what we do is pull different ideas or algorithms from different places. Historically, we’ve worked on complex data analysis of optical signals for measuring chemicals or analytes in the body, but some of our greatest breakthroughs have been by taking algorithms from non-traditional sectors. For example, we can utilize song recognition and gesture recognition tools to classify tissue types. Utilizing methods developed in other applications has been extremely beneficial. Read the rest of this entry »

Lab Profile: Ben Woodard, Director, Biotech Research and Education Program

July 16, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Lab Profiles |
Ben Woodard (right) Director of the Biotech Research and Education Program.

Ben Woodard (right) Director of the Biotech Research and Education Program.

I recently spoke with Ben Woodard, Director of the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility on Science Exchange. They help take research to the next level, literally. They scale up existing scientific procedures to make them ready for commercial production. Check out more on their interesting and unique niche below!

Q: What is your role with BREP?

Ben: I’m the Director of the Biotechnology Research and Education program (BREP) at the University of Maryland. The program encompasses two core facilities including the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility that focuses on yeast and bacteria processes and the Biopharmaceuticals Advancement Facility that focuses on adherent or suspension-adapted cell lines such as HEK293, CHO, Sf9, NSO, and MSCs.

Q: How did the Program come into existence?

Ben: The program began with just the Scale-Up Facility. In 1985 the University and my department, then The Engineering Research Center, felt that there was a need for a laboratory that would enable collaborative research between academics and industry.

The faculty had great ideas, but they didn’t know how to commercialize them, they didn’t know how to take a product to market. The industry had challenges with their processes that needed the expertise of the academics. So the Facility was created to link these two groups together. When it began in ‘85 it was one of the only contract research facilities on the East Coast, it was pretty novel at the time.

We were created to spark economic development for the State while providing small start-ups, faculty researchers, and student researchers with a knowledge base that would help them create novel and new technologies. Ultimately trying foster growth in the Maryland biotech sector.

Q: What are the most popular experiments?

Ben: Cell culture and fermentation projects, protein expression and purification. We specialize in taking a cell line that’s been modified and scaling up its production for pre-clinical research. Additionally, we have fantastic training and workforce development program that has trained over 200 technicians and researchers for the biotech industry.

Q: What are some of the major projects you worked on?

Ben: A major success was a product called Synagis, a top selling biopharmaceutical. It’s used to treat respiratory syncytial virus, a virus that prevents proper lung development in premature babies.

A second major project was our work with Martek and their product LifesDHA.  It’s a fatty acid that’s been linked to brain and eye development in children.  DHA is naturally found in breast milk, but Martek, with the help of our facility, was able to optimize its production in algae. Just about every child in North America under the age of 14 has consumed their product.

Our service isn’t to identify proteins or antibodies such as these, it’s to provide research, optimization, scale-up, and the like, to support the efforts of the biotech community.  We provide services that are crucial to the long term growth of a biotech product.

A parallel would be if you make a Duncan Heinz cake for your office. You get an egg, you mix it up with the mix and a little oil, bake it and you can feed 5 or 6 people. Now make that cake and feed the entire Northern hemisphere. Do you add 1 million times more eggs? Bake at a different temperature? You can’t just multiply the number of eggs by the anticipated number of servings. You have to change variables such as temperature, the size of the pan, and the ratio of oil to mix, in order for the cake to bake correctly.

Now for us, a researcher or clinician may have an idea that they’ve researched in small scale and found they can produce a small amount, a few milligrams  of a protein or antibody, perhaps enough to treat a mouse.  Now how do you scale-up that product to treat 4 or 5 million people? That’s where we come in.

Our mission is three-fold: do contract service work, help workforce development, and support education and research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Q: How did you end up working there?

Ben: I started as an undergraduate student in 1994 in the fermentation facility. I was working on workforce development project for MedImmune, training over 100 of their employees, and I really enjoyed the work in and the interaction with other.  I’ve been involved with the BREP since.

Q: How has your experience been using Science Exchange?

Ben: It’s been great. It’s been a unique opportunity to expand our reach outside Maryland. Being a state university we don’t spend a lot of money on marketing, but with Science Exchange we can utilize equipment that’s normally stagnant. Science Exchange allows researchers from other institutions to access equipment that would’ve been idle. Working with Science Exchange has really been a great source of opportunities for us to make our equipment operate at a higher volume.

Check out more on the Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility at their Science Exchange storefront.

About the author

Tess Mayall builds Science Exchange’s online and offline community of scientists and providers. She is a geologist by training, but considers herself a friend of scientists near and far.

 

 

Lab Profile: Zhiyong Wang, ADS Biosystems

June 19, 2014 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Lab Profiles |

 

Zhiyong Wang in the lab at ADS Biosystems.

Zhiyong Wang in the lab at ADS Biosystems.

I recently talked with Zhiyong Wang Ph.D, CEO of ADS Biosystems Inc. ADS Biosystems specializes in cell-based assay development. In particular, Zhiyong applies his experience and expertise from the renowned Hunter Lab at the Salk Institute to develop assays with brown and white fat, routine human cell lines,  human adult stem cells, and rodent cochlea.

Check out more on his background and inspiration below.

Q: What were you doing before you started ADS Biosystems?

Zhiyong: From 2002 – 2009, I was a research associate in the Hunter Lab at the Salk Institute. The lab is fantastic and everyone enjoys developing and working on their own projects. It’s a great environment with diverse expertise and collaborative spirits. Tony encourages people to be independent and explore what inspires them. Tony co-founded the Signal Pharmaceutical Inc., which is now part of Celgene Corp. Therefore, it is not surprising that a few people from his lab have started their own companies.

I was researching metabolism, obesity, and diabetics with mouse genetic models, and discovered crucial roles of transcriptional master regulators in obesity and glucose resistance. I was fascinated with fat cells (adipocytes) in particular.

That was the reason why I was recruited to a local stem cell company that planned to build a brown fat program from scratch. At that time, there were exciting discoveries that adult humans have brown fat, which burns energy and may be used to combat obesity and diabetes. I was really excited about the project and enjoyed building the brown fat program from the ground up. I discovered a family of small molecule compounds that induced brown fat formation from human adult stem cells. I also developed a platform to discover novels compounds, which induce brown fat formation in obese patients to burn extra energy.

Another project at my previous company started with a Department of Defense (DOD) grant. As you know, some of our soldiers at Afghanistan and Iraq experienced battlefield noises and lost their hearing. We wanted to restore their hearing by stimulating stem cells in cochlea to regenerate inner ear hair cells, which are responsible for sound wave sensing. As the lead scientist for the project, I developed cochlear organ culture-based assays to identify candidate compounds, which induce hair cell regeneration. Our hearing team was great in that we really enjoyed working together and we were very productive: we generated two patents for the compounds of hearing restoration and discovered a novel pathway critical for inner ear hair cell regeneration. Read the rest of this entry »

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