Credit Suisse Bulletin, Schweiz, 5/07
For the layman, understanding proteins, knowing the forms in which they are found in the human body, and using this knowledge to manufacture protein complexes artificially in laboratories might reasonably fall under the category of abstract rocket science. But for biotechnologist Corinne John and engineer and technology manager Christian Schaub, it’s part of their daily routine. Both are employed by the start-up firm Redbiotec.
Based on the pioneering discovery of MultiBac by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, which has been made available exclusively to Redbiotec, they are able to manufacture not only individual proteins, but also large quantities of protein complexes, artificially in the laboratory. Such complexes can have exactly the same effect as proteins in human cells, but also perform completely new types of function. The Redbiotec company thus has an important basic technology at its disposal, which will make it possible to develop and produce new cures for life-threatening diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s over the next few years. Unlike the products currently on the market, this new generation of protein-based pharmaceuticals should be able to treat human ailments in a more targeted and efficient way – and in some cases cure them completely. A long road lies ahead before this vision can become reality, however. The innovative Swiss company is looking to shorten this road by means of an intelligent business model. For now, it is producing customized protein complexes and cutting-edge technology for the production of proteins for direct clients in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, as well as for university research. Meanwhile, the danger of their discovery being copied has been averted, since MultiBac, as well as any further developments, are protected by patent rights.