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A sweet deal
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Agilent Technologies Inc. and Chungnam National University of Daejeon, South Korea, will establish an education center to embark on new initiatives to develop advanced workflows for analyzing biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars. The joint R&D center will provide training in glycan analysis throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The collaboration is especially aimed to further research in glycomics, the study of complex sugars. The program, which is expected to last at least three years and could continue indefinitely, is designed to develop biomarkers and new therapeutic antibodies to combat diseases such as cancer.
Building on an earlier collaboration, Agilent—a worldwide provider of measurement technology for chemical analysis, life sciences, diagnostics, electronics and communications—and Chungnam National University's Graduate School of Analytical Science and Technology (GRAST) will establish the Asia Glycomics Education Center to support collaborative university/industry education and cross-training. The university will develop and administer training programs for various methods of glycan analysis, which will be made available without charge to scientists and researchers endorsed by Agilent in South Korea and the South Asia-Pacific region.
The program will develop novel advanced workflows for the analysis of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars with a focus on glycan profiling and analysis using the Agilent HPLC-Chip/MS systems, according to Dr. Rudolf Grimm, Agilent's director of science and technology and manager of collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The majority of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars are glycoproteins, and hence, glycan profiling is essential to show batch-to-batch reproducibility as well as proving that no antigenic glycan structures are present in those glycoprotein drugs like monoclonal antibodies or erythropoietins," he explains.
For biosimilars, glycan profiling and analysis are essential, as the profile needs to be very similar to the originator drugs, Grimm adds. As he explains, "another key purpose of the collaboration is to develop hands-on training courses for glycan analysis not only for Korean pharmaceutical customers, but also for customers in southeast Asia and other parts of the world. A first training course has been delivered already with representatives from all major Korean biopharma companies being present, including KFDA, who just recently acquired a first Agilent HPLC-Chip/MS system."
Chungnam University president Sang-Chul Jung says, "Since we first started collaborating with Agilent in 2011, our university has enjoyed access to the latest analytical and scientific technologies for research in glycomics. Our highly talented team at GRAST, led by Prof. Hyun-Joo An, has made a number of significant findings, which have been shared with the global scientific community through papers and speaking engagements. This lives up to our university's motto—'Creativity, development and service to the community'—and we are pleased to further this collaboration with Agilent."
Rod Minett, general manager of Agilent's Life Sciences group in South Korea and the South Asia-Pacific region, adds, "in science, discovery is a long and arduous road dependent on the best people, process and technology. For this collaboration with Chungnam National University, we are going into the next phase of our journey to develop and enhance the biosimilars industry, which will help scientists develop new treatments to cure or prevent diseases."
Grimm explains that collaborative research between Agilent and leading academic researchers worldwide serves as the company's means of giving back to communities in which it does business. At the Asia Glycomics Education Center, Agilent will install a state-of-the-art Agilent 6540 Quadrupole Time-of-Flight with Chip/2D nanoHPLC system to develop novel applications or analytical methods in the field of glycomics and glycoproteomics.
"Around the world, we have seen greater interest among scientists and researchers in the area of glycomic research," says An, who heads the Asia Glycomics Education Center. "Through our research, we are often pushing the frontiers of science and the capabilities of our analytical instruments. We are thrilled to continue this partnership with Agilent."
"This is an important next-step for both Agilent and Chungnam National University as we continue to build talent and drive innovations and discoveries in the field of glycomics using industry-leading analytical solutions," says Grimm. "Because of it, we hope to become a new important player in the biopharmaceutical/biosimilar business around the world and increase our market share in this business field significantly."
He concludes, "we hope to establish novel, faster, more sensitive analytical workflows with higher resolution for biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars, especially for glycan profiling and analysis around the world and to provide educational training courses for customers around the world. We want Agilent to become a leading consultant for pharma companies that decide to go into the biosimilar business."