According to Rob Hillman, CEO of ActivX Biosciences, the ability and technology to find low-abundance proteins is an art.
Enter the artist, David Campbell, in the new position of vice president of chemistry. Campbell, 42, began his career in biotech but until 1999 couldnt find the link between the new biology and his own specialty, chemistry. Ruedi Aebersolds paper on ICAT technology changed Campbells outlook. For the first time, I saw a role for chemistry in proteomics, he recalls.
After working at Affymax and Bayer, Campbell sought the startup environment. [I was] still attracted to the energy level and creativity you find in a biotech company
, he says. So, late this May, he headed to ActivX to work on proteomics.The artistic flair is in his different approach for finding and analyzing proteins. Up till now, proteomics has primarily been a 2D gel-driven endeavor, Campbell says. Thats what youre going to see the major players doing.
But thats not what ActivX will be doing. The companys goal is to design probes to recognize families of proteins. The activity probes irreversibly bind to members of that protein family, Campbell explains. The method provides higher sensitivity than the 2D-gel counterpart, making it easier to detect and study low-abundance proteins. According to Hillman, knowing the protein family automatically gives useful information about the proteins activity and which pathway its in.
So far, it doesnt look like the industrys ready to give up its 2D vision. But the folks at ActivX support their chemistry approach as well as the chemist leading it. Its pretty special to have someone like Dave with a strong chemistry background but a real appreciation for and understanding of the biology, Hillman says.