New partnership creates European Centre for Chirality

Aim is to offer world-class analytical and scientific services for advancements in chiral chemical processes

Ghent University, the University of Antwerp and BioTools Europe have formed a new partnership to create the European Centre for Chirality (EC2).

EC2 brings together leading authorities dedicated to advancing the understanding the role chirality plays in biological processes. Its mission is to help academic and industrial scientists develop a broad range of chirality-related applications through offering services ranging from the determination of absolute chiral configurations, Vibrational Optical Activity (VOA) measurements, computational modelling including expert consultancy, and education workshops to open access VOA instrumentation.

The new Centre, based at Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium, will involve a team of dedicated scientists, including some of the world’s most respected leaders in VOA, using an array of advanced analytical instrumentation and modelling software able to fulfil the demanding analysis such challenging applications require.

‘Analysis of the chiral formations of both small molecules and biological molecules are now an essential part of the discovery and development of new medicines,’ said Dr Edwin Kellenbach, departmental head analytical sciences at Merck. ‘For example, the understanding of chirality has played a key role in the success of seven out of 10 of the latest blockbuster drugs including Lipitor, Nexium and Plavix.

‘The challenge faced by many of us working in the pharmaceutical sector and underpinned by pressure from market regulators is to obtain high quality data about chirality sufficiently early in the discovery of new molecules to be able to make decisions that will determine the success or failure of the molecules in achieving clinical efficacy and safety. EC2 will help scientists meet these challenges.’

Managing director of BioTools Europe, Frank Trundle, added: ‘One challenge we recognised is the initial capital cost of investing in analytical instrumentation, which can be limiting and may take long periods of time to approve through academic and corporate budget cycles.

‘To further support the research needs of scientists we will also offer open access services through EC2 and provide fast affordable access to critical analysis, modelling, and expertise of the highest standards.’

The Centre will open on 2 December 2010, and to mark the occasion EC2 will hold a day-long scientific programme and show-case BioTools advanced instrumentation. Attending the launch will be EC2 experts, including Profseeor Patrick Bultinck (Ghent University), Professor Wouter Herrebout (University of Antwerp), Professor Laurence A. Nafie (Syracuse University, New York) and Dr Rina K.Dukor (President of BioTools Inc).

Key VOA instruments will be available for demonstration, including Vibrational Circular Dichroism (VCD, accepted by regulators as being able to provide absolute configurations) and Raman Optical Activity (ROA).

‘The creation of EC2 will enable many scientists to gain easy access to a wide body of knowledge, know-how, and advanced VOA instrumentation to provide fast and reliable chirality-based analyses,’ said Dr Sergey Sergeyev, chief operations officer at EC2. ‘ This, combined with our consultancy, and training programmes, will help to provide deeper insights into molecular structure and function than ever before.’