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New peptide tests possible due to recently announced partnership
March 2017
by Rachel Flehinger  |  Email the author
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KISTA, Sweden—A recently announced partnership between Swedish biotech firm SymCel and Colzyx, a Lund, Sweden-based company focused on researching human collagen applications for antibiotic production, will explore the ability of 25 different new collagen VI-derived antimicrobial peptides to kill bacterial growth.
 
SymCel’s calScreener, a cell-based assay tool that measures real-time cellular bioenergy, will analyze the peptides. Of interest are 25 first-in-kind peptides, newly discovered by Colzyx, that have never been tested in this area of research and development before.
 
“We are delighted to have partnered with Symcel in what is an industry first in R&D on multiple counts. Their innovative calScreener technology is set to further test and validate the effectiveness of our novel collagen VI peptides which, for the first time in research history, are being put to use to combat microbial infection by destroying bacteria,” stated Eskil Söderlind, CEO at Colzyx.
 
The calScreener, first introduced in 2014, uses calorimetry to measure bacterial activity. Calorimetry measures the power produced in a cell culture, as the heat generated is a measurement of the metabolic processes in cells. Different bacteria and different treatments give rise to unique heat profiles that reveal significant information about the system being tested.
 
In a press release issued at the calScreener’s launch, Magnus Jansson, chief scientific officer at SymCel, said: “The properties of calorimetry-based cell monitoring and the data it produces are uniquely well suited to the development of novel antibiotics. One of the unique properties of calorimetry-based metabolic monitoring of bacterial growth is that the pattern of energy expenditure is both species- as well as strain-specific.”
 
Collagen VI has been the focus of study for several years, and has revealed its involvement in a wide range of tissues and pathological conditions, exerting key functions across a variety of tissues. It has been shown to exert a surprisingly broad range of cytoprotective effects, leading companies like Colzyx to explore the full potential of these peptides.
 
According to Söderlind, “[Colzyx] peptides have the potential to provide a new and unique form of antibiotics for treating infections in the future. Our highly natural solution—utilizing the body’s own built-in defense mechanism and developing that into a form of a pharmaceutical drug for targeting microbial infection—has great healthcare potential.”
 
Testing the collagen VI-derived peptides recently discovered by Colzyx will provide rapid generation of unique information that can’t be acquired through other experimental methods. This has the benefit of enabling the flexibility in testing peptides independently or in combination with others. Applying this technology to Colzyx’s novel peptides could reveal significant potential in accessing the body’s own defenses in combating microbial infections.
 
Christer Wallin, CEO of Symcel, commented: “We are very pleased to be working with Colzyx and very much look forward to putting our technology to use in measuring and evaluating the impact that their peptides have in killing bacterial growth. calScreener was selected because of its ability to deliver unique data in real-time for these truly groundbreaking tests, the results of which will be of high scientific and healthcare interest.”
 
In other recent SymCel news, the company announced late last year that it had partnered with TiKa Diagnostics and St. George’s University of London for the use of its microcalorimetry technology in testing mycobacteria and for antimicrobial peptide (AMP) studies. The rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance is now crucial to maximize efforts in controlling the prevalence and spread of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), SymCel says; moreover, the development of novel agents—such as AMPs—able to combat superbugs and interfere with biofilm formation has become a key necessity.
 
The project between SymCel and TiKa Diagnostics, a spinout from St. George’s University of London, has the potential to enable rapid Mtb culture confirmation, reducing detection time to just two to six days rather than the average 12- to 14-day time span required using conventional culture testing techniques. Furthermore, faster detection will provide an increased scope for accurately predicting optimal antibiotic treatments for patients. SymCel’s novel detection system will be combined with TiKa Diagnostics’ new method of sample preparation and mycobacterium growth enhancement, reportedly overcoming the main challenges that impede the use of mycobacteria in clinical diagnostics.
 
Code: E031725

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