MelTec wins 2,3 million euro grant to establish collaborative proteomics research network

Magdeburg 09 July 2002MelTec GmbH, a functional proteomics company, has been awarded a prestigious research grant, worth approximately 2,3 million euro, by the German Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology (BMBF). MelTec will use this grant to further its drug discovery programmes and its new approaches to individualised medicine by heading the establishment of CELLECT, a multi-disciplinary network of ten research groups.

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The institutions participating include, for example, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg, the Institute of Medical Neurobiology in Magdeburg, the Department of Chemistry at the Free University of Berlin, and the Centre of Molecular Biology Heidelberg (ZMBH).

CELLECT, an abbreviation of Cellular Eukaryotic proteome-Code deciphering Technology, aims to integrate the various disciplines involved in proteomics research, including specific biological and in silico models, with MelTec's topological proteomics technology, MELK. By correlating changes in protein network patterns found by MELK with experimental set-ups targeted at these networks, a machinery will be established leading to the deciphering of protein network hierarchies in cells.

This, in turn, will lead to the identification of therapeutic candidates that can be modified to treat diseases, such as inhibiting tumour cell migration, modifying the regulation of apoptosis and cell cycle in cancer, selectively modulating protein networks in synapses in specific psychiatric and neurological disorders, and inhibiting abnormal proteolysis of Alzheimer beta Amyloid Precursor (APP) in Alzheimer's Disease.

"CELLECT marks a substantial step towards the application of proteomics research to clinical medicine, and we are proud to be heading up such an initiative", stated Walter Schubert, M.D., President and CEO of MelTec. "The key to enhancing drug discovery and the development of individualised clinical diagnostics lies in the co-operation and integration of multi-disciplinary expertise ranging from clinical medicine, cell biology, and proteomics to informatics. At MelTec, we want to leverage the expertise and knowledge of the scientific community while focusing our internal efforts in product discovery and development to maximise the company's value."

"We are confident that the establishment of this research network will provide revolutionary new insights into the molecular causes underlying many diseases", stated T. Hartmann, Ph.D., an internationally recognised Alzheimer's researcher at the Centre of Molecular Biology Heidelberg (ZMBH) and collaborator in this network.

"Each participant in this network possesses a core technological and/or therapeutic expertise and the integration of these will serve to accelerate and expand upon the knowledge we have already gained from our individual efforts. Furthermore, gaining access to a unique technology such as MELK will speed the process and provide a higher level of proteomics information which was inaccessible until now", added Dr. Hartmann.

At the core of this network lies MelTec's proprietary MELK-technology, which is to be integrated into the experiment, measurement, analysis, prediction and experimental validation studies performed by members of this network. MELK enables for the first time the quantification and simultaneous mapping of hundreds of different proteins and glycostructures at the single cell level, and in turn, produces 2D or 3D images and data sets of these protein networks. Because MELK reads protein networks in the context of whole, intact cells, it also enables the researcher to discover the precise position of protein networks, thus enabling closer investigation of the hidden relationships between the structure, molecular expression and function of proteins.

MelTec GmbH is a privately held company that harnesses proprietary topological proteomics technologies to enhance and facilitate the drug discovery and development process. Its approach can be applied to a wide range of therapeutic areas for drug target and lead compound identification, selection and prioritisation, pre-clinical drug development and ADME/Tox studies.

The company focuses on areas where cell invasion mechanisms play a crucial role, such as in immune-mediated diseases, cancer, arteriosclerosis and neurological disorders. MelTec's high-throughput robotic imaging technology, Multi-Epitope-Ligand-Kartographie (MELK), combines cell biology and biomathematical tools to visualise protein networks at the cellular and subcellular levels without disrupting the cell's integrity and correlates the networks with biological function.

Integrating this systems biology technology with conventional genomics and proteomics techniques, the company can also determine the mode-of-action of lead compounds and currently marketed drugs leading to safer, more efficacious drugs. Using this approach, MelTec has already successfully identified new targets and potential lead compounds in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and cancer.


Leslie Versweyveld

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