The big impact of smaller companies on treating blood-based diseases
Thanks to the human genome project finished 10 years ago, scientists now know the full genetic code of human DNA, but they don’t yet fully understand how this genetic information is used in creating different types of cells with distinct functions.
DNA is the basic building material that is identical in every cell, but how do we create both brain cells and liver or lung cells using this same basic material? In this context, the genome contains all the genetic information, but not in a form that is readily understood. Therefore, a masterplan, or blueprint must be applied to instruct molecules how to create specifi c cells and this blueprint is called the epigenome.
The hope of reaching such ambitious project goals in drug development is only possible with some very dynamic companies on board that can bridge the gap between academia and pharmaceutical companies. Typically these are SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), because they thrive in this middle ground. They are contributing unique expertise and technology and also tend to be more fl exible and collaborative than large companies.
Sigolis, a small innovative company based in Sweden, has experience in the development of microstructures for a wide range of areas in life science. The technologies they design may in due time contribute towards clinical applications for diagnostics or prognostics.
Cellzome, another SME participating in the Blueprint consortium, has a strong track record of developing novel compounds that alter the enzymes that read, write and erase the epigenome. An article published in Nature in October 2011 explains their groundbreaking approach and they have featured again in the March 2012 issue of Nature Biotech.
THE COLLABORATIVE POWER OF BLUEPRINT
A vast project such as Blueprint, means that researchers must draw on all relevant knowledge and work across academic and medical fields.
It’s reassuring to know that around three-quarters of the participants are experienced not
just in their field but also in other European research projects. They know the challenges of
communicating between languages and cultures, but they also have a vision for the addedvalue
that this generates. Their commitment and perseverance ensures that the vision becomes