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Jul 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 13)

European Overview: Firms Look for Niche in Peptide Synthesis

Unique Technology or Service Allows Companies to Stand Apart from Their Rivals

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    JPT Peptide Technologies’ printing tools allow it to create high-content peptide microarrays.
    (TheraCode)

    In May, TheraCode acquired JPT Peptide Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jerini. JPT offers peptide-based products and services for vaccine development, immune monitoring, and peptide biomarker discovery. “Our acquisition by TheraCode means that, in addition to continuing our work in the service arena, we will also develop immunodiagnostic and immunotherapeutic products in collaboration with our new parent,” explains Holger Wenschuh, Ph.D., managing director of JPT.

    JPT’s high-throughput technology involves a step-wise solid-phase synthesis process, but instead of using traditional resin-based chemistry, flat membranes are used as a solid support.

    “We dispense tiny droplets of activated amino acids directly onto the surface of these membranes, and it is these droplets that act as microreactors in which the chemical reactions between the amino acids and the peptides already on the membrane occur,” explains Dr. Wenschuh “The process involves a number of reaction rounds, with each spot on the membrane corresponding to an individual peptide construct and each membrane accommodating up to 2,000 spots.”

    The main advantage of this approach is the speed with which large numbers of peptides can be created in parallel, says Dr. Wenschuh. “We can economically generate up to 50,000 peptides in a week as the need for consumables is low. Using our technology, peptide synthesis is several orders of magnitude cheaper than traditional solid-phase approaches,” he adds.

    JPT’s core products include PepSpot™ and PepStar™ technologies for peptide arrays, PepMix™ peptide pools, as well as PepTrack™ and SpikeTide™ peptide libraries.

    The company’s macro- and microscale peptide sets are complemented by preassembled tools for enzyme profiling such as kinase, phosphatase, and protease peptide microarrays,  and peptide microarrays for mapping immunodominant regions in antigens. JPT’s premium synthesis unit generates essential reagents for all phases of vaccine development.

    While applications of the high-throughput technology are manifold, JPT says that the company’s main focus is on generating high-content peptide arrays, libraries, pools, and sets of proteotypic peptides for proteomic applications.

    “Our high-throughput synthesis technology gives researchers the opportunity to monitor immune responses or quantify protein expression on a proteome-wide basis,” Dr. Wenschuh suggests. “As the application of such technologies in clinical research expands, we are confident that peptide arrays, pools, and libraries that cover, for example, the entire proteome of a pathogen, will have a significant impact on research into personalized medicines and diagnostics.”

  • Long-Chain Peptides

    Almac offers a range of life science research and drug development services, including the development of both custom research peptides and GMP peptides as therapeutic candidates.

    Specialist peptide expertise is a result of extensive investment in the production of long-chain peptides using a  tagging technology that caps the final peptide. The technology results in a high purity peptide even before chromatographic purification, and makes the production of peptides of over 100 amino acids long, including modified and labelled molecules, both cost-effective and efficient, claims Denis Geffroy, vp business development peptide and protein synthesis.

    “One of the main stumbling blocks to the efficient generation of long-chain peptides is that the longer you make the molecule the less pure it becomes. That produces a huge purification challenge, requiring a lengthy and expensive HPLC process that inevitably leads to the loss of a lot of product. Our tagging technology means we can get 90–95 percent purity from the crude peptide and, in some cases, even bypass chromatographic purification completely.”

    “We started our custom peptide synthesis business primarily for research applications, but over the last three years or so our GMP peptides business has grown to the point where it has overtaken the research peptides,” Geffroy points out. “To address the increased call for therapeutic peptides, we have established our Rapidd™ package as a complete set of solutions aimed at accelerating entry of APIs, including peptides, into early-stage clinical development. 

    “The Rapidd package addresses not just peptide synthesis, but formulation, regulatory requirements, and preclinical safety and toxicology,” adds Geffroy. “It’s particularly tailored for start-up companies that may not have the financial security to spend two to three years moving a first product into the clinic.”


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