SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Marking the first partnership of itskind for Agilent Technologies Inc. in Asia, the company has come together withChungnam National University (CNU) in Daejeon, Korea, to announce an agreementfor developing new applications, methods, technologies and software tools inthe field of glycomics, or the study of complex sugars. The university'sprimary goal in this effort is to identify and develop biomarkers for diseasessuch as cancer, thereby leading to development of therapeutic antibodyproducts.
"This collaboration is a perfect fit to Agilent as key focusareas in life science are the academic market as well as the biotech/pharmaindustry," Dr. Rudolf Grimm, director of science and technology for Agilent'sLife Science Group, tells ddn indescribing how the deal fits into his company's strategic goals and theuniversity's. "CNU's benefit is in the first bigger university-industryrelationship, which will increase the university's reputation and fundingsituation."
"We are excited about this collaboration with one of theworld's leading universities on glycan research," said Rod Minett, generalmanager, Agilent Life Sciences Group, South Asia Pacific and Korea, in the newsrelease about the deal. "The knowledge gleaned from the collaboration will notonly contribute toward the improvement of the biosimilars industry in Korea,but also help scientists discover new cures and develop new drugs and vaccinesto treat and prevent diseases."
The research will be jointly led by Prof. Hyun Joo An, aprofessor of analytical science and technology at Chungnam NationalUniversity's Graduate School of Analytical Science and Technology (GRAST) andhead of the new Asia Glycomics Education Center, and by Grimm, whose dutiesalso include serving as Agilent's manager of collaborations in the Asia Pacificregion. Grimm was appointed as an adjunct professor by the university for hiswork in the glycomics field. Both researchers will define and conduct jointresearch projects to develop new applications, methods or analytical tools forglycan analysis.
As Grimm tells ddn,"Agilent will provide cutting-edge technologies to An, and she will use thosetechnologies to develop novel analytical methods to analyze glycoprotein drugsand biosimilar drugs as well as glycan biomarkers. Since Korea is investingheavily into academic research on one hand as well as into the biosimilarindustry—but so far lacked local expertise in glycan research/analysis—ourpartnership will strongly benefit the entire community."
"There has been an increased interest in the area ofglycomics research in Korea," said An in the official statement about thecollaboration. "I am very pleased that Chungnam National University and Agilenthave chosen to combine their cutting-edge technology and knowledge in Korea tofurther research in this very exciting field."
"Chungnam National University, with our motto, 'Creativity,development and service to the community,' has been offering the best possibleenvironment for excellence in research and education for over 50 years," addedProf. Kwang Hwa Chung, dean of Chungnam National University. "We are proud toannounce this collaboration with Agilent that will see our university using thelatest analytical and scientific technologies for research in glycomics."
Under the agreement, GRAST will also develop glycomicstraining courses for Agilent's customers and employees to help further theadvancement in the field, while Agilent Life Sciences will use GRAST as itsstrategic glycomics reference site in Korea and Southeast Asia.
A collaboration with "a world-class analytical scientistlike Prof. An" is a critical step in efforts to push innovation in the field ofglycomics, Grimm says, adding that "such partnerships will ensure that Agilentremains a leading provider of knowledge and analytical solutions to furtherresearch."
The partnership will also benefit from familiarity, as Grimmand An are previously acquainted. Grimm explains that he has known An for more than seven years from herformer postdoctoral time at Prof. Carlito Lebrilla's lab at the University ofCalifornia-Davis, which was the site of another strategic glycomicscollaboration with Agilent.
"When she became a professor at Chungnam National Universityin March 2011, we started to talk about continuing our collaborative work inthe form of a glycomics network between Agilent, UC Davis and Chungnam NationalUniversity," Grimm says. "We have published jointly several papers in the pastseveral years."