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NWO grant for advancing analysis of oligonucleotide therapeutics

17 May 2022
Govert Somsen and Anouk Rijs (division of BioAnalytical Chemistry) have been awarded funding for their project Innovative Analytics for Therapeutic Oligonucleotide Research (InnovATOR) from the Dutch Research Council NWO.

In collaboration with researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the companies AstraZeneca, Novartis, GSK, MS Vision and Tosoh, they will advance and combine novel analytical methods to make a next step in unravelling the molecular composition of oligonucleotide pharmaceuticals. The project was granted within the Key Technologies (KT) programme of the Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC), which is aimed at solving societal challenges. The total project budget is 1.2 M€ of which 360 k€ is provided by the participating companies.

Untreatable diseases
Oligonucleotide-based drugs offer promise as revolutionary therapies for hitherto untreatable diseases. However, by their synthetic nature and inherent instability, these therapeutics are chemically very complex. To understand their function and activity, and guarantee quality and patient safety, full characterization of oligonucleotide drugs is essential.

The consortium of academic and industrial researchers will develop new analytical strategies by combining cutting-edge multidimensional separations with advanced mass spectrometric techniques and smart optimization and data algorithms. Three PhD students will be appointed within the consortium; they will perform their research at the VU and UvA laboratories, and be seconded for several time periods to company labs to focus on implementing newly developed methods in industry. The project aims to deliver key analytical technologies that will ultimately safeguard drug efficacy and patients’ wellbeing.