Agilent Technologies, University of Rouen and A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) to further innovation in Biopharmaceuticals and Glycomics.


On May 14, 2013, Agilent Technologies Inc., the Glyco-MEV laboratory at the University of Rouen, in France, and the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to develop tools to effectively analyze biologics and vaccines.

The so-called “new generation” or “biologics” drug molecules are dedicated to human therapy to prevent or treat various serious diseases affecting millions of people each year (cancer, rheumatism, for example). These drugs are produced by bioprocesses using living cells as a factory for their production. Unlike small molecule drugs, biologics produced by living cells have generally more heterogeneous structures, including the glycosylation pattern (also known as glycans). Sugars are known to prolong the half-life of biologic drugs and thereby reduce the frequency and dosage of drugs administered to human patients. Despite increasing evidence suggesting the critical effect of glycans on drug performance, the analysis of sugar structures still remains a difficult task due to the limited techniques available.

This new market of “biologics” is growing steadily with a projection over 15% for the years to come. Future needs are great, new cell production systems are currently being developed to meet this demand.

In this challenging context, the Glyco-MEV laboratory at the University of Rouen signed a collaboration agreement with the BTI Singapore to join force to develop analytical techniques to ensure the effectiveness and safety of these “biologics”. Indeed, the BTI is currently working to develop methods of producing these molecules in animal cells, while Glyco-MEV laboratory specializes in the production of these biopharmaceuticals in plant systems.

Agilent Technologies U.S. markets analytical high performance equipment for chemistry, life sciences, diagnostics, electronics and communications. Through this strategic partnership, Agilent Technologies provides technology support to develop, in collaboration with public partners, new methodologies adapted to the analysis of biomolecules.

Through this agreement, the Glyco-MEV laboratory becomes Agilent’s Glycomics Reference Site in Europe and BTI its Glycomics Reference Site for South-East Asia. This certification strengthens the position and international reputation of the University of Rouen in the development of technology for the analysis of biopharmaceuticals tomorrow.

This collaboration has already been initiated by Dr. Muriel Bardor, Lecturer at University of Rouen, during her posting in Singapore from 2010 to 2012 at BTI. The collaborative program “GlycoTOOLS – Development of analytical tools for Characterizing protein glycosylation” proposed by Dr Muriel Bardor for University of Rouen and Dr. ZHANG Peiqing for BTI, was funded by the Institut Français Singapore under the PHC program Merlion 2011.

The prospects in this field and the willingness of academic partners to strengthen their collaboration, should quickly lead to the creation of an International Associated Laboratory (LIA).