At the Blue Sky Bio Competition held during the SynBioBeta SF 2015 meeting, three finalists presented their ideas to the conference audience. They each hoped to win the prize resources in order to get the boost they needed to bring their ideas to fruition. Science Exchange sponsored this event, and presented the winners with $100,000 in credits to be used on the Science Exchange platform. In the end, the audience decided to divide the winnings among the three finalists. Ewa Lis, founder and CEO of Koliber Biosciences and one of the winners, presented her ideas about probiotics and depression.
Ewa hopes to tackle the problem of depression. They propose to develop a probiotic strain that will produce a serotonin precursor of tryptophan directly in the gut. A probiotic supplement, especially if available over the counter, is more likely to be accepted by the large population of people that currently avoid medical treatment. It solves the problem of tryptophan degradation in the stomach and doesn’t require long treatment.
The market need for new depression treatments is clear. Depression affects 350 million people worldwide and results in $30 billion of economic loss. Two thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek medical treatment despite the existence of treatments. Moreover many failed treatments are due to patients stopping the medication themselves, often due to side effects.
Ewa and her team will use Science Exchange to develop probiotics that will ameliorate the effects of depression. To develop the strains they will use information from whole genome sequencing, RNA sequencing and analytical chemistry, services readily available via Science Exchange. Combined with their expertise in strain engineering and machine learning, they will be able to leverage the Science Exchange services to accelerate their research.
Science Exchange has many labs that can help Ewa and her team. For DNA sequencing, labs like Macrogen, Laragen, Quick Biology, Affiliated Genetics, ACGT and Applied Biological Materials can perform the work. For RNA sequencing, there are over 60 labs that can help Koliber Biosciences. In addition to these services, Science Exchange has labs that specifically focus on gut microbial community studies such as Second Genome. Lastly, Science Exchange offers many, many labs that perform standard studies such as amino acid analysis and compound synthesis. Science Exchange is the right resource to help Koliber Biosciences get started.
Our user Pat Corsino, a R&D Manager at Nuovo Biologics, is studying the mechanism of action behind their antiviral and oncology technologies. I spoke with him about life and efficiency at an early-stage biotech, check out his advice about being proactive at a small biotech!
Q: What does Nuovo Biologics do?
Pat: We’re a small biotech company. We’re working on novel antiviral and anti-cancer therapeutics.
Q: How often does Nuovo Biologics contract out experiments?
Pat: Quite a bit, we have several collaborators all over the country. They help us plan and perform experiments, because we have limited capabilities in house. Right now, we need to get experiments done quickly in order to get funding to expand our laboratory.
Many collaborators do experiments for us, but sometimes there are projects that we can’t do through our network. That’s where Science Exchange comes in handy, because there’s a wealth of different experiments on the site. Read the rest of this entry »
Eos Neuroscience is a company built on collaboration, featuring a unique team with expertise in transgenes, virology and gene expression, and retinal degeneration. Once they complete their preclinical stage, their intended userbase would be those with blindness attributed to photoreceptor degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration.
They are running into some problems in the process of preclinical research, however. Alan Horsager, Co-Founder and CSO, describes his experience, “As a whole, biotech needs to deeply reevaluate the process, all the way from discovery to market. It’s so arduous that so few impactful drugs make it to market. There are certain gene therapies making it through, but the path is not easy at all. We say ’20 years and $200 million.'”
In light of difficulties and the expense of developing technologies, companies like Alan’s are trying to find ways to do things more efficiently, and their team is so unique that it’s difficult to recreate that collaboration. So rather than trying to clone themselves, they’re on Science Exchange.
“Science Exchange provides the opportunity to bring experts together toward a common goal, a network of distributed team members.” says Alan. “You can’t have an organization that has all the people and equipment that you need. You need expertise in different areas and Science Exchange provides a central location where you can go to get the experts.”
If your business encompasses multiple research areas, it is often difficult to access all the equipment and researchers you need in house. Eos does a wide range of research including vector development, qPCR, and gene expression, but in varying degrees and not constantly. So having the ability to do all that in house when you’re not doing the research full-time doesn’t make much sense.
Alan elaborated, “You can hire a postdoc for $70K per year, and theoretically they do more than a PCR assay, but if they don’t do it right it takes extra time and there’s a lot of training involved. If you’re only doing a couple of different assays, it’s probably better to hire someone and do it internally. But if you’re doing a lot of different assays, it’s better to seek external experts because it’s a fraction of the cost.”
We have actually found that researchers can save up to 46% on various experiments like immunohistochemistry (IHC), cloning, and sequencing, so Alan is absolutely right. Any product that enables you to order services from scientific experts across the world at significant discounts is worth a second look.
About Eos Neuroscience:
Eos has designed and managed clinical programs in gene therapy and the eye and has been involved in all aspects of primary research including transgenes, virology and gene expression, and retinal degeneration. Their worldwide core of experts has expertise covering basic research through clinical/regulatory.
About the author
Brianne is dedicated to customer support and development for Science Exchange. She is a formally trained biologist with a M.S. in Biotechnology whose past experience at Charles River Laboratories sparked a flame for building client relationships.
Some companies skirt regulations, opting instead to go off the radar. American CryoStem‘s Anthony Dudzinski‘s first words to me on the phone during our discussion were, “We follow the rules.” They’ve accumulated the greatest depth of adipose tissue-based cellular technology research relative to creating their laboratory and processes at a clinical cGMP level, and they’ve done it by actively engaging FDA consultants in the process.
Anthony F. Dudzinski, COO at American CryoStem
They’re looking at adipose-derived stem cells – also known as mesenchymal cells. ‘Mesenchymal’ was the original name of cells that came from bone marrow, and the two types are 98-99% identical, but there are some difference with the protein markers and capabilities of adipose vs. marrow cells.
Marrow cells are better for blood-borne diseases like lymphomas, whereas adipose-derived stem cells seems to be much more effective than marrow for structural issues. The concentration of adipose cells per gram of source material is actually 500-1000x greater than bone marrow from same patient. They have the ability to differentiate into a multitude of other cells including chondrocytes. This has incredible potential for how doctors treat sports injuries and aging issues.
Anthony set the stage for the importance of the research,”Most sports or age injuries are due to ligament or cartilage damage to the extent that most of them are bone on bone. So what if we could take Mrs. Smith who’s 55 and played tennis most of her life but can’t play anymore and doesn’t want to have knee replacement surgery. We can take cells out of the fat in her own body, attach them to a scaffold to induce chondrocytes, insert them into the meniscal cartilage area, and as time goes by with normal rehabilitation, her body regrows cartilage in her knees and her pain is gone.”
Anthony is excited about the implications for creating tissue for repairs, wound healing, burns, tendon injury, etc., all coming out of cells taken from adipose tissue. Read the rest of this entry »