'World's first' NanoImaging service centre opens

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Human papillomavirus

NanoImaging Services has opened what it claims is a first of its
kind fee-for-service imaging business to enable structural
characterisation and validation of biological drugs throughout the
development pipeline.

With the ever increasing numbers of biological drugs entering the development cycle, there is an increasing need for advanced structural characterisation techniques to analyse these complex molecules and their targets.

However, the adoption of such techniques by the pharmaceutical industry has been limited by the technically difficult and labour intensive task of collecting the large number of 2D images that are required to (re)construct a 3D image of biological drugs and targets.

NanoImaging's service uses high-resolution three dimensional (3D) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and low temperature (cryo) TEM techniques to structurally characterise a range of biological molecules that include proteins, viruses, vaccines, lipid vesicles and cell free lysates.

The 3D images can take weeks or months to reconstruct using traditional techniques however the founders of the company have developed automated protocols while working at the Scripps Institute that reduce this time to a matter of days.

" A picture is worth a thousand words; a three-dimensional model is priceless," said Clint Potter, CEO of NanoImaging.

"The ability to directly visualize biomolecular structures helps scientists and researchers make better choices, earlier and more often, and gives regulators increased confidence in their interpretation of complex analytical and clinical data."

NanoImaging Services has been founded by researchers from the Scripps Institute with backing from leading TEM manufacturer FEI Company, to give pharmaceutical companies access to the technique that not only needs highly specialised equipment, but also specialist staff.

A variety of services are offered by the company, from visual inspection and statistical characterisation of nano-sized bioparticles to sophisticated 3D reconstruction and antibody/labelling experiments.

"We can see important applications for this technology at almost every point in the development pipeline.

In the end, it will help pharmaceutical manufacturers bring new, safer, more effective products to market faster, with lower, more predictable development costs," said Potter.

The company has already benefited from early contracts with Merck & Co. that included a project to characterise virus-like particles of the human papillioma virus (HPV) in support of the company's recently-launched cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil (quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine).

"We come from the academic world, where we have worked extensively with commercial entities, and we understand the frustration clients can feel over the vagaries of research agreements, changing personnel, loosely-controlled protocols and intellectual property issues," said Bridget Carragher, NanoImaging's chief operating officer.

"We started NanoImaging Services to address those concerns by providing world-class technical expertise through a professional, business-oriented service operation."

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