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Nanosyn - nanobiothechnews
T h e g l o b a l n a n o b i o t e c h n o l o g y i n t e l l i g e n c e s o u r c e
Volume 1
Number 9
September 24, 2003
Reprinted with permission from
NanoBiotech News, published by NHI Publications, Atlanta, GA. Copyright © 2003. All
rights reserved. For subscription information call (800) 597-6300 or visit
By Jane Salodof MacNeil
Nanoscale Combinatorial Synthesis, Inc.,
Menlo Park, CA, has received notice its first
patent will be issued Sept. 29 for proprietary
technology that could be a boon to biotech and
pharmaceutical companies wanting to do
research on a nanoscale.
Patent 6,625,546 covers the solid phase com-
ponent of its Accelerated Nanoscale Synthesis
Technology (ANST) for producing nano quanti-
ties of compounds. This would cut costs substan-
tially for companies accustomed to buying or
making a microliter or more of expensive com-
pounds, whether or not they needed the larger
The privately held company, which does
business as Nanosyn, is already using the tech-
nology to deliver nanoscale compound libraries
and made-to-order compound sets to its cus-
tomers. It will continue to produce compounds,
but with patent protection Nanosyn may also
license the technology to customers that want to
make their own compounds.
The pharmaceutical industry is actively
exploring miniaturization of laboratory research as
a way to reduce the high cost of compounds and
reagents. Another goal would be to speed the time
in which molecules can be identified as drug can-
didates and investigated.
"We had this idea of miniaturizing chemistry
ahead of its time," says Olga Issakova, PhD, vice
president of the company, which was founded in
1998. Her husband, Nikolai Sepetov, PhD, is presi-
dent and CEO of Nanosyn.
Earlier attempts at miniaturization had been
stymied by the difficulties inherent in tracking the
identity of a compound through organic synthesis,
Sepetov says. "People have coding schemes, but it
complicates the chemistry," he says. "We found a
way that does not use any coding.
"We do chemistry very efficiently, and when
we use our proprietary method, which is based on
mass spectrometry, we are able to get the identity
of this compound just by clicking the mouse.
That's what the patent is about."
Nanosyn's edge is not just being able to
deliver compounds in nanoscale, but also to do so
quickly and with a high standard of purity, accord-
ing to C. Nicholas Hodge, PhD, cofounder and vice
president for chemistry and technology at the
Amphora Discovery Corp. Based in Los Altos, CA
and Durham, NC, Amphora uses Nanosyn's com-
pounds for its work on anti-inflammatory and can-
cer drugs.
"The main reason we do [testing] in small
quantities is we can afford to have everything
purified," he says, relating that researchers work-
ing with larger quantities sometimes skimp on
purification because of the cost. "So they test
impure compounds and not unexpectedly get
lousy information, and have to do the work up
front all over again," he says.
Hodge describes the pharmaceutical industry
as first coming to the realization that testing meth-
ods have reached the stage where miniaturization
is possible. "Over the past three or four years, I've
seen a real shift in awareness," he says. "Three or
four years ago [Nanosyn] was a real voice in the
Indeed, Nanosyn faced market resistance ini-
tially, according to Issakova. From the start, its
founders planned to license ANST. By the time
Nanosyn had turned the idea into a working
technology, the economic downturn had started.
Burned by the biotech bust, potential customers
were not willing to try something new.
"People were tired of promising technology,
but they needed the product," Issakova says. "So
we said, `OK, why don't we use the technology
ourselves, and when people see it really works,
then we've come to the stage when we can offer
the technology.'"
Tiny compounds are attractive
An added benefit of ordering compounds in
nanoscale is that companies do not have to invest as
much in storage facilities for molecules that are dif-
ficult to sustain. "It keeps your money in your bank
account not in your freezer," says Issakova, who
Nanosyn technology produces compounds on a nanoscale

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