German firms MorphoSys and Proteros Biostructures received an approximately €850,000 (about $1.2 million) grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop a technology platform for the structural characterization of antibody-antigen complexes. The funded research aims to combine the strengths of combinatorial biology and rational structure-based approaches to enable the efficient analysis of antibody-antigen interaction at atomic resolution. MorphoSys will provide antigen and antibody molecules, and Proteros will provide its x-ray technologies and computational expertise.
The firms claim the ability to generate high-resolution antibody-antigen complex structures will help speed the engineering of therapeutic antibodies. “Within the research program we’ll bring together MorphoSys’ antibody expertise and Proteros’ structure solution know-how to tackle challenges in crystallizing whole IgG molecules,” explains Marlies Sproll, Ph.D., MorphoSys CSO.
The program is part of Munich’s biotechnology initiative, m4 – Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapies – A New Dimension in Drug Development in the Munich Region. The companies’ first project will analyze the binding of MorphoSys’ clinical-stage anti-inflammatory antibody MOR103 to its target GM-CSF antigen.
Proteros specializes in offering x-ray protein structure analysis services to the life science sector. The firm is exploiting its expertise and platform technologies through research services, product sales, and licensing. Products include what Proteros claims is the largest collection of Gallery Structures, developed as a catalog of ready-to-use drug targets for immediate analysis of three-dimensional complex structures with clients’ drug development compounds. The firm also offers customized gene-to-structure services, primary and secondary protein screening, and biochemical assay development services. Specialist products include its Picodropper™ technology for the optimization of protein crystals, Free Mounting System™ for optimizing crystallographic data, and the Proteros Reporter Displacement Assay.
During August Proteros announced the establishment of a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, and expanded business development efforts for Europe and Japan. It says revenues were up 30% in 2009.