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MediChem CEO Looks to Expand Proteomics Effort

NEW YORK, May 22 – After launching into proteomics last year with the acquisition of Emerald BioStructures and ThermoGen, combinatorial chemistry specialist MediChem is now planning to delve even deeper into the study of proteins, MediChem CEO Michael Flavin said Tuesday.

Acquiring Emerald, with experience in determining protein structures, and ThermoGen, a purveyor of protein expression and biocatalysis services, has allowed MediChem to study protein structure, Flavin said, but the company is also looking to study protein-protein interactions and to develop new mass spectrometry and NMR capabilities.

“We’re getting more involved with proteomics in a broader front,” Flavin told GenomeWeb. Many techniques for studying proteins are complementary, he said, and it makes sense to have access to more than just one technology.

In particular, Flavin mentioned a potential collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory to study protein-protein interactions as a possible segue into other proteomics technologies.

“We’re not as involved [studying protein-protein interactions] now as we will be in the future,” he said.

But for the moment, protein structure determination is Woodridge, Illinois-based MediChem’s primary focus. Using proteins supplied by the company’s ThermoGen division, a robotic liquid handling system tries to find the right conditions for the protein to crystallize. With a protein crystal in hand, MediChem scientists could then access the Argonne laboratory’s synchrotron to acquire x-ray crystallography data for determining the protein’s structure.

Not that MediChem is the only company looking to develop drugs by first finding the structure of a protein target. Structural Genomix, Syrrx, and Integrative Proteomics are a few of the companies that share an interest in protein structure determination.

What sets MediChem apart, said Flavin, is the company’s combinatorial chemistry technology for generating potential small molecule drugs and the company’s 14-year history as a biotechnology company.

“It’s been a fourteen-year building process,” he said. “We’ve achieved credibility over [the company’s] lifetime.” 

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