Glycomics on the map

Kyowa Hakko Kirin to fund projects exploiting Ezose’s GlycanMap technology

Lloyd Dunlap
PINE BROOK, N.J.—Ezose Sciences Inc. has entered into aresearch agreement with Tokyo-based Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd., to collaborateon glycomics studies using Ezose's proprietary GlycanMap technology platform.
 
Established in 2009 as a U.S. company, Ezose is an affiliateof the diagnostics division of Shionogi & Co. Ltd. in Osaka, Japan.
 
 
Kyowa both manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals,focusing on its core business areas of oncology, nephrology andimmunology/allergy. As the holding company of the Kyowa Hakko Kirin Group, italso manages the business activities in the biochemicals segment. The companyemploys about 7,200 in its worldwide operations.
 
"Shionogi wanted Ezose to grow in the entrepreneurialsetting of the U.S. and amid the 'pharm belt' of the east coast," says EzoseChief Operating Officer Dr. Scott A. Siegel. "Like many U.S. biotechs, Ezosehas operated with speed and considerable freedom in decision-making since itbrought Japanese and American scientists together at its U.S. site. At the sametime, Ezose has benefited from the larger corporate resources of Shionogi andits diagnostics division."
 
"We look forward to putting our unique glycan-analysiscapabilities to the service of the specific research interests of Kyowa HakkoKirin," adds Dr. Hidehisa Asada, vice president of R&D at Ezose. "As thestructure of our collaboration anticipates, the research will seek newdiscoveries that enable novel therapeutic strategies and sustain the flow ofnew products to market."
 
 
Under terms of the research agreement, Kyowa will fundseveral glycan-biomarker and other discovery projects, with an option forfurther research and development. Kyowa will actively participate in theresearch and help direct the biomarker selection process, but no precise targetsor therapeutics areas for the research have been announced nor were otherdetails of the agreement disclosed.
 
 
Glycomics is the study of glycans, the sugar chains thatduring the biochemical process of glycosylation become attached to manyproteins expressed by human cells. The particular glycans involved helpdetermine the function of the resulting glycoprotein and its role in health anddisease.
 
 
"Glycomics lagged behind genomics and proteomics becausethere wasn't a practical high-throughput method to do glycan analysis," saysSiegel. "Identifying and quantifying glycans was a slow and laborious task thatwas difficult to apply to biomedical research, even though it was understoodthat glycans had an important role in health and disease. The contribution ofEzose has been to provide a high-throughput method with our GlycanMaptechnology."
 
The proprietary Ezose platform combines, in an automated96-well format, high-throughput glycan enrichment with specialized MALDI-TOFmass spectrometry and custom bioinformatics to both structurally identify andquantitate glycans present in complex biological samples.
 
 
"The technology is actually a suite of technologies—glycanenrichment, mass spectrometry, bioinformatics—that have been integrated toaccelerate glycan identification and quantification," Siegel states. "Thetechnologies, combined with assay automation, provide the throughput andrepeatability needed for biomarker research and bioprocessing application."
 
 
Such glycans can serve as novel biomarkers to aid in thedevelopment of drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests, including companiondiagnostics. In addition, Ezose is counting on glycomics' potential foruncovering new therapeutic targets and mechanisms and for guiding thedevelopment and manufacture of glycosylated biologics and biosimilars.
Ezose offers glycomics capabilities ranging from glycananalytics and biomarker discovery to diagnostic development andcommercialization. The company tailors these capabilities to the needs ofcorporate partners under collaborative R&D and analytical-servicesagreements.
 
"The interest in gaining access to this technology is nowapparent," says Siegel. "Ezose has embarked upon more than 25 collaborativeprojects with 15 external partners since the company started operations in 2009."

Lloyd Dunlap

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