Industry news in brief - 3

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Protein brings you a round up of recent industry news,
with developments at Activotec, Protagen, Caprotec Bioanalytics and

UK peptide synthesis firm Activotec​ has completed a new funding round, raising money through a syndicate comprised of existing shareholders. The company develops and manufactures automated peptide synthesisers and also offers peptide development and manufacturing services. "The funds will be invested in expanding our research and development as well as new personnel and premises,"​ said Chris Littlewood, chief executive of Activotec, which was founded in 2002 as a spin out from the University of Southampton. "This will assist us in our dual strategy of accelerating our peptide synthesiser development and sales as well as leveraging our innovative peptide technology through collaborative projects with biotechnology and pharmaceutical partners to develop new peptide therapeutics." ​ Meanwhile, German-based Protagen​ has also been raising some money. In this case, the €1m garnered will be used to expand the firm's protein biochips business unit. Back in September 2005, Protagen launched the UNIchip protein biochip and has also created UNIarray, a biochip package for the discovery and validation of biomarkers. Following the systematic identification of autoantibodies in patient sera, Protagen is able to create a protein biochip prototype for its partners that can be used as a diagnostic tool, either as part of clinical study or for the identification of patient cohorts. Protagen also has an internal programme for the development of prototype diagnostics for multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Alzheimer's disease. The programme for multiple sclerosis is the most advanced, with a prototype diagnostic for the disease already being tested in large numbers of patients. The firm says it now wants to develop new biomarker products and services, both independently and in conjunction with pharma partners. Since 2004, it has raised a total of €5.3m and this new cash has come both from existing investors and one new one - Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). Not to be left out, life sciences start up CaprotecBioanalytics​ has received €6m over two rounds of financing. The firm was founded by Prof. Hubert Köster in Berlin in 2006 with the intention of commercialising the Capture Compound Mass Spectrometry (CCMS) technology he developed in the areas of proteomics, drug development and development of protein biomarkers. Prof. Köster, who will be the CEO of Caprotec, also founded Biosyntech, touted as the first biotech firm in Germany, the US firm Sequenom and co-founded another US company called Milligen/Biosearch. Karlheinz Schmelig, managing director at Creathor Venture described the CCMS platform as having "enormous potential"​ and also pointed to Prof. Köster's clear "entrepreneurial know-how"​ as a reason for investing. "The CCMS technology isolates proteins directly and selectively from a complex cellular environment,"​ said Prof. Köster. "Our platform closes a technological gap in the field of proteome analysis with its ability to be applied both in water-soluble and membrane protein mixtures." ​ At the centre of the CCMS technology are small, tri-functional molecules dubbed capture compounds (CCs). They are designed as 'chemical probes' to allow researchers to target and isolate proteins or protein classes from a biological sample. The biomolecules are then classified using mass spectrometry. The CCMS technology can therefore also investigate the interactions of small molecules with the proteome, a key process in drug development. PANalytical​ has opened newly refurbished offices for its 300-strong workforce in Almelo, The Netherlands (overall it employs around 900 people). The company supplies analytical instrumentation and software for X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry. The improved facilities mean new offices for 60 people, an upgraded assembly area, a new staff restaurant and a series of training suites.

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