UU Innovation

Hoping to revolutionise drug discovery

2016-03-11

Many of the body’s proteins are anchored in the membrane of the cell and are thus referred to as membrane proteins. About one third of all genes in the body give rise to such proteins. They are highly interesting for drug development but often difficult to study, since most become unstable and lose their activity when isolated from their natural membrane environment. The company Salipro Biotech has now developed nano-particles that help stabilise the functionality of isolated membrane proteins, thereby overcoming this drawback.

Jens Frauenfeld and Robin Löving.

“This is an important class of proteins that we can stabilise. Furthermore, we believe that our technology has the potential to make a big difference in drug development, since it gives researchers a very useful tool they have long lacked”, says Jens Frauenfeld, who, along with Robin Löving, is one of the company instigators. Both have backgrounds as researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Several of the big pharmaceutical companies have already shown interest in this technology. The methods they use today are complex and will only work on certain proteins, but with Salipro’s nano-particles, they can do what no one has previously been able to achieve and this is what attracts their attention.

“Unlike competitive alternatives, our technology is simple and robust”, says Jens. Development projects in the pharmaceutical industry can take months or years, or not work at all. We offer quick results, which can reduce the costs of drug development. Ultimately, patients can gain faster access to new medicines and this is an important goal for Salipro Biotech. But it is not just in drug discovery that the technology should find use, another hot area is vaccine production.

“We believe that our technology will be of great significance for the vaccine market, and lead to better opportunities to develop new and more effective vaccines, such as HIV or influenza”, continues Jens.

Uppsala University Innovation has helped Salipro with patent issues as well as the business concept and model. In addition, the company has benefitted from UUI’s business network both at personal and company levels. Vinnova’s VINN Verification Program has also provided additional funding, so Salipro can now make further progress towards the market.

“We have received very valuable business support from actors spanning the entire innovation system in Uppsala. They are well organised, professional and experienced. The future looks bright”, concludes Jens Frauenfeld.