Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems Inc., an Irmo-based biotechnology company known for developing recombinant proteins and enzymes, has been awarded a $900,000 Small Business Innovation Research Fast-Track grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The grant will fund research into the production of affordable gangliosides, biomolecules that contain sugars and a type of lipid called ceramides and play critical roles in various biological processes. IMCS will synthesize and modify gangliosides to increase researchers’ understanding of how the biomolecules, well-suited for therapeutic and diagnostic applications, affect neurological functions.
The grant will be headed by L. Andrew Lee, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of IMCS, in conjunction with Xi Chen, Ph.D., chemistry professor at the University of California, Davis.
The project description is available here.
In addition to its portfolio of enzymes, IMCS provides technologies to pharmaceutical companies, academic medical centers and contract research organizations to develop antibody and gene therapy.
Ronald Schnaar, pharmacology professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, likened the grant’s approach to building with Legos. Schnaar, who is not involved in the grant, said that the technology presented creates a flexible system that would allow scientists to use molecular building blocks called glycans to create a library of gangliosides that could be used for a variety of research applications.
“If you give us the pieces to build the Lego (structure), we can generate the tools to study anything from cell activity to testing potential therapeutics,” Schnaar said in a news release from SCBIO. “You can use this to build anything. You can build a mimetic library.”