Ezose and Fast Forward first met at a bio-partnering conference in fall 2010, says Dr. Scott A. Siegel, chief operating officer of Ezose Sciences, noting that the two companies discussed Ezose's unique glycomics-based biomarker discovery technology and Fast Forward's mission to accelerate research aimed at improving the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
also began building an interest and knowledge base in MS through discussions with other parties and review of the literature, which hinted that our glycomics approach could be especially relevant to this disease," Siegel
"It was through these independent discussions that we were introduced to Dr. Anthony Reder, a recognized expert in this field at the University of Chicago Medicine
In 2011, Ezose
was then invited to apply for funding through a Fast Forward
program focused on developing new tools and technologies for use in MS clinical research and development and clinical monitoring."
Ezose applied for that funding in close collaboration with Reder, Siegel says, and that ultimately lead to the announced agreements with both Fast Forward and the University of Chicago Medical Center, which was rebranded this year so that it will be called-publically though not legally-the University of Chicago Medicine.
"And Fast Forward
is contributing its financial resources and its experience in bringing together academic researchers and emerging biotechnology companies to accelerate the development of products for MS diagnosis and therapy," Siegel
The short-term goal is to identify glycan biomarkers for MS-specific glycans and glycan patterns associated with MS and its subtypes, Siegel notes.
"The long-term goal is to develop these biomarkers into diagnostic tests that could be broadly used in diagnosing and managing MS," he
"This alliance brings to MS research an approach that has never been explored before," Siegel
"Others have reported in the scientific literature that changes in glycans may be among the earliest molecular changes associated with MS. So glycans could be particularly good candidates for diagnostics development."
Until recently, however, the obstacle to pursuing this line of investigation has been the relatively slow and laborious lab techniques that were available for glycan analysis, he
"That analysis, and the field of glycomics generally, lagged behind genomics and proteomics because of the lack of high-throughput methods to study complex sugars like glycans," Siegel
continues, adding that the GlycanMap platform deals with this problems by enabling the fast, high-throughput analysis that has been needed to better understand the role of glycans in health and disease.
"The platform combines advanced glycan sampling and separation methods, mass spectrometry and custom bioinformatics.
It is being applied not only to MS research but also to other disease areas including cancer and diabetes," he