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Section Biochemistry

 "Proteins form the structure and chemistry of life. Their enormous diversity, their specialization and their potential for therapeutic use are overwhelming and make biochemistry and bioanalytics pioneering disciplines."

Dr. Sabina Gerber, Head of Section ad. interim

We put our knowledge into practice in projects with life science companies, the pharmaceutical industry as well as in education courses and general teaching.

Areas of our expertise

Recombinant Protein Technology

Pharmaceutically and biotechnologically relevant proteins are expressed in both prokaryotic (e.g. E. coli) and in eukaryotic cells (e.g. CHO, HEK). The goal is to achieve the highest possible expression rates of the target protein for downstream processing. We are experienced in the production of soluble proteins, including antibodies, refolding from inclusion bodies, and purification of membrane Proteins.

Downstream Processing

In Downstream Processing (DSP) different methods are used to purify the target protein to homogeneity as required e.g. for an active pharmaceutical ingredient. The focus is on chromatographic techniques, but filtration methods are also used. The processes are developed in such a manner that a scale-up to GMP production is possible. At laboratory scale recombinant proteins are purified for preclinical pilot studies. In addition to the classical downstream procedures, we develop new methods, such as the automated screening of appropriate conditions for protein purifications using Design-of-Experiments (DoE).

Early Development of Biologics

The development of protein-based therapeutics, e.g. monoclonal antibodies, usually starts with a large number of candidates that have been obtained e.g. by phage display or from immunized animals. However, many of these candidates do not sufficiently meet the desired requirements in terms of specificity, affinity and solubility to develop a safe and marketable drug for patients. In so-called developability assessments, we test the candidates for their suitability for development as a drug using various orthogonal methods. In addition, we support biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the characterization of selected lead candidates. Our developed methods are then used in quality control during GMP production. We have experience in the developability assessment of mono- and bispecific antibodies as well as antibody drug conjugates.

Research & Development

The Biochemistry team carries out applied science in the context of research and development projects, Bachelor’s and Master’s theses in cooperation with industry partners. We use our experience in recombinant protein technology, downstream processing, early development of biologics and bioanalytics, and the infrastructure of our superbly equipped laboratories.

Courses of study

For the Bachelor's degree, the Centre for Biochemistry and Bioanalytics is responsible for biochemistry lectures 1-4, as well as bioanalytics lectures and the practical course in biochemistry. The specialisation course in the 6th semester and the subsequent Bachelor’s thesis include research topics arising from our core competencies in cooperation with partners in industry.

In the Master’s degree program in the specialisation “Chemistry for the Life Sciences”, we conduct the module Big Active Molecules with the lecture "Recombinant Proteins as Therapeutics" and the practical course "Downstream Processing & Analytics" in our laboratories. Master’s theses are based on current topics from R&D projects.

Team

Students

Jon Grolimund (MSc)