Cambridge Research Biochemicals (CRB) works with small companies and academic groups to help commercialize new technologies relevant to the peptides market. CRB most recently signed a partnership deal with Cyanagen, giving it access to Cyanagen’s CHROMIS family of fluorescent dyes for labeling custom peptides.
CRB says that studies have shown the CHROMIS labels perform better than the most advanced commercial dyes, with increased brightness and performance across the 400–850 nm wavelength range. About 60 ready-to-use labels are already available, and the dyes can also be designed to display different charge values (anionic, cationic, zwitterionic, and neutral), and combine with over 40 crosslinkers and biotinylating reagents.
CRB will play an instrumental role in the EU-funded BIOSCENT project, a European collaborative program that aims to develop new bioactive polymeric scaffolds for use in stem cell-based tissue regeneration approaches to treating cardiovascular disorders and diseases. Announced in April, the project will leverage CRB’s peptide-synthesis expertise and the development of peptide-directed antibodies to identify cell signaling factors.
“We have established a core peptide technology team, which is working with peptide research scientists in the U.K. to look at new avenues for synthesizing complex molecules such as multiple-bridged and glycosylated peptides,” says Emily Humphrys, commercial director.
Tapping into the expertise of academically trained peptide chemists is not as easy as it sounds, however. While the custom-peptide market is growing steadily in terms of volume and peptide complexity to meet the increased demands of new proteomics applications and antibody technologies, the number of academically trained peptide chemists is dwindling, Humphrys points out.
“Not all peptide companies are created equal,” stresses Paul Sheppard, Ph.D., scientific development director for Enzo Life Sciences (ELS). “There are few formally trained peptide chemists left in either industry or academia today, and there is now an increasing reliance upon machines to make peptides, rather than on a human element that really understands peptide chemistry.
“The upshot of this is that while the number of companies offering custom peptide-synthesis services is increasing, the knowledge and expertise residing within those companies has become greatly diluted; consequently the synthetic success rate and integrity of peptides obtained from some commercial providers may not rise to meet expectations.”
Collaborative research has proven most important to ELS. “Whereas the company’s deep involvement in an area such as the ubiquitin signaling pathways led to its inclusion in a five-year EU-funded Network of Excellence (RUBICON), its peptide-based capabilities allowed the company to share this expertise with all RUBICON members as a core facility. Such involvement has undoubtedly proven to have been to the benefit of all involved,” adds Dr. Sheppard.