Before starting this review, I was unsure what to focus on. So much has happened during the year. However, after starting, I understood it would focus on science. It felt self-evident since science is the main focus of our everyday activities. The review immediately became a pleasant exercise, especially when the year was as successful for us as 2023 was. The examples below are just a tiny part of all the projects we run each year at the company. On the other hand, they are representative since they show applications of the three main areas of our expertise: X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and integrated drug discovery.
Understandably, most of the projects we work on cannot be disclosed, but sometimes, the authors decide to publish the data and ask us to join the publication. Eight papers in high-ranking journals were co-authored by our team members last year. One of these requires special attention: the paper published in Nature Communications resulted from a collaboration with Professors Ganna Petruk and Artur Schmidtchen from Lund University. The project is focused on developing a new treatment strategy for bacterial infections and sepsis. Describing the essence of the project in a press release published by Lund University, Prof. Schmidtchen stated that "despite decades of research, there are currently no specific treatments for sepsis. Now, drawing inspiration from the body's own defense mechanisms based on peptides, we have developed a new approach to treating severe bacterial infections". Using different biophysical methods in combination with in silico-based design and in vivo studies, the group developed a peptide-based compound sHVF18. Its structure was elucidated using NMR spectroscopy by SARomics Biostructures.
Another highlight was our contribution to Aqilion's Alnitak program, which aimed to discover and develop an inhibitor of TAK1, a central switch for inflammatory signals and activation of several inflammatory cytokines. First-in-class TAK1 kinase inhibitors were designed in a hit-to-lead program run in close cooperation between three partners: SARomics Biostructures and Red Glead Discovery, together with Aqilion. An integrated approach based on several fast design-make-test-analyze cycles driven by structure-based design, compound synthesis, and evaluation granted the project's success.
With company business development in mind, one of our significant activities in 2023 was initiated after obtaining an "internationalization grant" from the Swedish Region Skåne. The project was run closely with Givi Kokaia (Kunskapspartner) and Kajsa Nordström (Digital Scorecard). The project aimed to design strategies to increase our presence in the therapeutic antibody and biosimilars market, where the need for structural information is enormous. We published several blog posts demonstrating the advantages of applying structural biology techniques to the field of antibody therapeutics. Our team members also participated in two meetings on the subject, the Festival of Biologics in October 2023 in Basel, Switzerland, and the Protein and Antibody Engineering Summit (PEGS Europe) in Lisbon on November 14-16. Without going into the details of the work, the respective posters presented at the meetings can be viewed on SlideShare: Carl Diehl et al., Stenström et al., Rose et al., Kettisen et al.
This year, an essential step into the company's future will be taken: the move to the new laboratory building at Medicon Village, where all our laboratories and offices will finally occupy a single floor. Many hours were spent during the autumn in exciting discussions planning the move, which is expected in the summer. We were privileged to be able to outline and design all the details of our future laboratories as we wanted them to be.
Last, I should mention our recent (and very first!) customer survey (October 2023). We were excited to learn that more than 90% of our customers are happy or very happy with our services and are ready to recommend us to others. In fact, more than 50% replied that they contacted us after a recommendation from a colleague. See more in our LinkedIn newsletter.
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