Munich/Burghausen, 14-7-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — Wacker Chemie AG yesterday presented the “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” to Dr. Tobias Daßler, Dr. Carsten Bornhövd and Dr. Günter Wich for their pioneering work on WACKER’s proprietary ESETEC® secretion system. The researchers were honored for their fundamental analysis of the E. coli-based production system for pharmaceutical proteins and for making enhancements which enable even highly complex molecules such as antibody fragments to be produced cost-effectively and efficiently. This year’s €10,000 innovation award focused on basic research.
Developed and patented by WACKER, the ESETEC® secretion system affords a way of producing pharmaceutical proteins cost-effectively and efficiently inside microbes. The prize-winning team conducted a detailed analysis of the Escherichia coli-based technology and developed new cell lines by making selected genetic modifications. As a result, antibody fragments can now be produced in high yields and be secreted into the culture medium in active form.
Antibody fragments are a highly promising growth area for the pharmaceutical industry, with several medications already a commercial success. However, their widespread therapeutic use has been hampered by the absence of a low-cost production method – until now. Thanks to the team’s prize-winning research, the product can be made in high yields of several grams per liter.
“The market for producing pharmaceutical proteins with the aid of microbial systems is growing at a double-digit rate each year. And antibody fragments are one of the most-promising areas in that market,” said Auguste Willems, Executive Board member of Wacker Chemie AG, who handed over the award to the team of developers. “Our ESETEC® secretion system is currently the best-described production system for antibody fragments – it offers not only record yields but much faster development and production times compared with those of mammalian cell cultures. This saves our customers costs and shortens the time to market.”
Willems presented the award as part of WACKER’s annual R&D symposium held in Burghausen (Germany). This is the forty-second time the symposium has been held.
About the “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award”
Since 2005, the Munich-based chemical company has honored employees’ outstanding R&D work at its annual research symposium. Named after the company’s founder, the €10,000 “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” rotates between the categories of product innovation, process innovation and basic research. Next year’s groupwide research competition will focus on product innovation.
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