A couple of chemical engineers believe their proprietaryapproach to generating libraries of organic compounds is sostrong that they formed a company around it.The new company, EnzyMed Inc., is located in the OakdaleResearch Park in Coralville, Iowa, near the University ofIowa. Co-founders of the company are Jonathan Dordick,professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at theuniversity, and Douglas Clark, professor of chemicalengineering at the University of California-Berkeley. Theyalso are co-inventors of the technology."There is no better location for our new company to growthan next door to the university's biotechnology researchcomplex at Oakdale," Dordick said, adding that they signeda two-year lease on 1,200 square feet of laboratory space."This relationship will be instrumental in building ourcompany."Seed financing for the company was provided byPappajohn Capital Resources of Des Moines, Iowa, andNew York-based Castle Group Ltd., Clark said."We've developed new technology for rapidly andinexpensively generating large libraries of organiccompounds," Clark told BioWorld. "These organiccompounds can then be rapidly screened for biologicalactivity and their potential as drugs."There are many companies using combinatorial chemistryto generate large libraries of polypeptides andoligonucleotides," Clark said. "What's unique aboutEnzyMed's technology is that we generate libraries oforganic compounds and our technology is not limited toany single type or category of molecule. The benefit thereis versatility and the ability to generate compounds whichare much more likely to have biological activity."The approach also will make the technology suitable todevelopment of other products such as food additives,pesticides, herbicides and plant and animal growthhormones, Clark said.A patent application has been filed on the technologycovering the whole process.While he said the technology is applicable to any diseasetarget, EnzyMed initially will focus on drugs to treatcancer. And although Clark said the main focus will be onin-house development, what new biotechnology companywouldn't entertain offers from companies who wantedlibraries generated from their compounds?"EnzyMed has every intention of becoming a fullyintegrated pharmaceutical company," he said.Dordick will be president of the company until a CEO isfound. Then he and Clark will oversee development of thetechnology in a consulting role.EnzyMed now has one senior scientist, Yuri Kmelnitsky,and one full-time technician. Clark said two moretechnicians will be hired by the end of the summer. Byyear's end, he said, the plan is to add another seniorscientist."EnzyMed the 15th tenant of the park, under the umbrella ofthe University of Iowa Technology Innovation Center(TIC), which was created to help emerging technology-driven companies in the area. A second biotechnologycompany, Heartland BioTechnologies Inc., also leasesspace at the TIC.As a TIC tenant company, EnzyMed will have access tospecialized research equipment in the university's state-assisted Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. n
-- Jim Shrine
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