Sophomer's technology will make immunoassays faster, easier and cheaper
Prague, February 7, 2023. The startup Sophomer s.r.o. today announced the signing of a licensing agreement to commercialize a technology that can replace the traditionally used bovine serum albumin (BSA) in immunoassays. The newly licensed technology has been developed in collaboration between the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS (IMC), Elisa Development and the bio-innovation center i&i Prague. The signing of the license agreement also officially accelerated the activities of the startup.
Signing the license agreement (from right: Jiří Moos, Martin Burkhard, Jiří Kotek, Jan Plicka and Alexandr Krajhanzl).
BSA is one of the oldest industrially derived proteins. In immunoassays it is primarily used as a blocker, which makes the measurements more accurate by suppressing unwanted signals. It is derived from bovine serum, which poses a number of problems. These include the risk of pathogen transmission, which means that this material must be tested rigorously and expensively and its use is subject to certification to confirm its safety.
"Logically, there is no such risk with our technology, as our product is fully synthetic. This eliminates other problems, whether it is the variability in reproduction of production, the relatively high price, which increases with the requirement for higher purity, or the complex disposal of the material. The ethical aspect of the whole matter is also not negligible," says Jan Plicka of Elisa Development and a leading expert in the development of diagnostic devices.
The difference between a SophoMer™ F10 and a BSA.
Sophomer's technology will find application wherever immunoassays is a basic working tool. It has the potential to greatly assist in biochemical laboratories, in the development of In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) devices, in the monitoring of environmental contaminations, in food laboratories for the determination of allergen content, or in immunoassays in veterinary laboratories. "Our ambitions continue to grow as our research progresses, but the main idea remains the same: to make the work of our fellow developers and researchers faster, easier and, to a large extent, cheaper. We want them to be able to focus without distraction on their own ideas and the challenges that their demanding, extremely important and at the same time low-visibility work brings to the public," adds Martin Burkhard, CEO of Sophomer s.r.o.
from right: Jiří Moos, Martin Burkhard, Jiří Kotek, Jan Plicka and Alexandr Krajhanzl
A great example of technology transfer
The creation of the start-up Sophomer s.r.o. is a prime example of technology transfer and the linking of science and industry. "At the beginning of the story there was a need for diagnostic test manufacturers, which we were able to identify thanks to our network of contacts. We then searched academia for a technology suitable to address this need. We found a suitable technology at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry and, after successful validation tests, we assembled a joint development team," says Jiří Moos from the i&i Prague Bio-Innovation Center, which has been behind the project from the very beginning. Among other things, i&i Prague also participated in the creation of a startup that has been included in the portfolio of this bio-innovation center. "We are currently helping to find customers for the developed polymer Sophomer ™ F10, while continuing to co-develop other products. We are also well on our way to arranging the first investment that will help kick-start the company's activities," adds Jiří Moos.
A team of scientists at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry began developing the technology that led to the establishment of Sophomer s.r.o. about two years ago. "I am very pleased that we have managed to bring our joint efforts to the successful signing of a licensing agreement. We have thus taken an important step towards ensuring that the quality work of our scientists finds its application in real life. This builds on our previous successful transfers of basic research results into practice. I believe that this technology from the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry will significantly simplify the performance of immunoassays," adds Jiří Kotek, Director of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS.
Martin Kovalčík, 777 472 863, email@example.com
Synthesis of a polymer product at a defined temperature in a bath.
About Sophomer s.r.o.
Sophomer s.r.o. is an academic startup founded by a group of people who come from both industry and academia. Their vision is to bring together two seemingly unrelated fields: immunoassays and polymer chemistry to help anyone who uses immunochemical assays in their work. One of the startup's first and widely applicable products is SophoMer™ F10, a polymer that can replace the widely used bovine serum albumin in immunochemical assays, currently a component without which the development of immunological analytics is seemingly unimaginable.
About Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS, v. v. i. (IMC)
The Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS, v. v. i. (IMC) is the largest research institution in the field of polymer and polymer materials research in the Czech Republic. In this field, it is also among the most important academic research centres in the world. IMC has a knowledge potential of more than 120 scientists in the key fields of macromolecular chemistry, physical chemistry and polymer physics, as well as in related fields such as biochemistry or biomedical or materials engineering. Although the institute is primarily focused on basic research, it also works closely with the application sphere, as evidenced by a number of applied basic research results. Read more here: www.imc.cas.cz/eng.
About i&i Prague
The i&i Prague Bio-Innovation Center focuses on the transfer of new technologies into practice. The company was established at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS and is mainly dedicated to innovations in the field of drug development, diagnostics and medical devices originating from academic institutions. It supports the creation of spin-off companies and the sale of licenses. So far, the company has participated in the creation of or otherwise supported 15 spin-off companies from five countries, has an equity stake in nine of them and has invested over 70 million crowns. In total, the spin-offs in i&i Prague's portfolio have raised more than CZK 1.8 billion from other investors. In addition to direct financial investments, i&i Prague also assists more than 15 research institutions and universities in the Czech Republic and abroad in the commercialization of innovative technologies. In 2021, i&i Prague started up the i&i Bio investment fund. Learn more here: www.iniprague.com.
About Elisa Development
Elisa Development, in cooperation with the Food Research Institute Prague, has previously developed and marketed several ELISA format immunoassay kits for the quantitative detection of food allergens in food and food raw materials. During this development, the company's staff has repeatedly faced the problem of variable quality of BSA, which is very often used as a blocker of non-specific interactions. These problems were the impetus for the idea of replacing BSA derived from bovine serum with a synthetic polymer, which led to the approach to i&i Prague and subsequently to the collaboration with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry.