Honestly speaking, the year 2020 was a turbulent and challenging one for human society, the global industry, and, of course, our health. But the coronavirus also brought new heroes, enhanced solidarity and collaboration. In an impressively short time, companies, governments, physicians, NGOs, investors, etc., came together to find innovative solutions to fight the pandemic and develop effective vaccines as the ultimate answer to the new pandemic. We felt evenly encouraged to add our part and the crisis became a chance for us to evolve as a company.
But let's start at the beginning. For Belyntic, the year began with a new member of the family. Maurice joined us as our first technical assistant. Today, he is a pillar in our team, doing an outstanding job between R&D, quality topics, and general lab management.
On the public relations side, we got some drivers to boost the first weeks of the year. For the second time, Wirtschaft + Markt nominated Belyntic as one of the 50 most innovative companies and "stars of tomorrow" of the East German economy (check out our profile - Link). Moreover, we represented one of the start-ups from the local BPW entrepreneurship cosmos during one of the host contact events (watch the video - Link). During this time, the pandemic seemed far away, and the focus mainly laid on nurturing our core business to promote our kit products and services.
When the first cases of Covid-19 occurred in Europe during February, we already started to sort out how we will react. It was essential for us to retain our lab activities and fulfill our orders and deliveries. Yet, it became more and more apparent that people's lives were at stake. Following the federal guidelines, we increased the home office for our lab staff and switched to virtual meetings. Still, the pandemic hit us with a positive Covid-19 case in the Belyntic family, and so we ordered a two-week quarantine for the whole team.
Working partly remote, however, we weren't less active. We tried to anticipate the scientific discourse and evolvement of the vaccine pipeline, yet not surprisingly, with a focus on the peptide-based candidates (read our blog post with a peptide-based vaccine overview - Link). Also, we shared our experiences and feelings as a start-up during the pandemic in a nice video-blog (vlog) from our friend Michael Bauer from Carbolution Chemicals (watch the interview - Link). On the R&D side, we highlighted how the PEC technology could help fight against the deadly virus. Together with Berlin-based diagnostic company Scienion, we showed how difficult-to-purify PEGylated peptides for COVID-19 research could be purified easily with our PEC-Linker.
The pandemic was omnipresent, but life and core business moved on - fortunately with good momentum. With a little delay, we launched our new website with much more content to read and explore. This blog, for example, reflects an integral part of the site to create a space for communicating with our customers and partners.
A significant milestone came across: the official announcement of the distribution alliance with Iris Biotech. For the product launch, Iris highlighted the Research Kit as Product of the Month (read the newsletter - Link), and the foundation to access global markets was laid. Throughout the year, we introduced our PEC technology to Iris Biotech's distribution partners Sumit Biosciences (India), Peptide Solutions (USA), and Singapore-based building block experts SciClix (Southeast Asia) for the broad international dissemination of our products.
Remarkable efforts in our R&D team were led by Manoj and Nadja, who endured the challenging situation between progress and pandemic measures. They ensured significant progress in exploring novel linker designs and PEC applications in the course of our biggest R&D project, financially supported by Investitionsbank Berlin and the European Regional Development Fund.
The beginning of a novel business opportunity for Belyntic was marked by the release of our third kit product in April - the High-Throughput Kit, which allows for the first time the parallel purification of up to 96 peptides (read the release post - Link). We planned the release long before, but the timing was ideal in a situation where chemists were studying peptide fragments of SARS-CoV-2. The kit turned out to be a perfect tool to support demands for high-throughput peptide manufacturing. Stephan, our expert for the High-Throughput Kit and parallel purifications with PEC, gave a stunning online presentation about the new product in a webinar session hosted by Waters.
We exploited this unique feature and collaborated with NEC Laboratories Europe to support their plans to validate AI-powered epitope predictions (read the press release – Link). With great pleasure, we accepted an invitation to speak about the results of that collaboration at the Peptide Therapeutics Forum in August. By that time, we introduced PEC-grade as a new label for peptides purified with our technology. The isolation of the target peptide using PEC efficiently removes peptidic impurities as primary sources for false-positives, enabling unprecedented fast and cost-efficient access to a large number of peptides for immunological applications.
We accomplished another milestone on August 7th. We submitted our third patent on the modification of synthetic peptides using our PEC-Linker. In general, such modifications help to improve the stability or binding affinity of peptides and therefore enhance their efficacy as therapeutics. Peptide-based vaccines, for example, have to be delivered together with an immune-potentiating agent - a so-called adjuvant. Coupling the adjuvant to the peptide and forming a self-adjuvant peptide can significantly improve the efficacy. However, until today, peptide and adjuvant are typically added in a mixture because conjugation was a major synthetic obstacle, leading to insufficient immunogenicity. From previous projects, we know that our modification approach can manufacture even the most complex peptides. With this additional feature, we complement our PEC technology with a module that is vital to the drug development pipeline.
Therefore, we conducted a virtual roadshow and presented the concept of self-adjuvant peptide vaccines to biotech, pharma, and academic partners, aiming to set up our own partnered project. Robert, our Head of R&D, also gave a fantastic talk to explain the working principle and use cases we had created in recent times at the Oxford Global Virtual event (read the abstract - Link). Our way led us to the University hospital of Bonn, which believed in the approach. A first project setting was born targeting prophylactic, self-adjuvant peptide vaccines against the Sars-CoV-2 and Influenza virus.
Next to our market expansion and our efforts to intensify our active role in the drug development process, we strengthened our visibility and marketing activities on social media. An essential element was designing an explanatory animation to help our potential customers understand the innovation (watch it here - Link). Another significant yet unexpected event for Belyntic came in late this year: The nomination and finally the awarding with the Innovation Award Berlin-Brandenburg on November 27th (read the press release - Link). An incredible boost in attention to Belyntic and its endeavors to fight the pandemic accompanied the whole nomination and awarding time with a big surprise on a Saturday morning – our co-founder Dominik on page 1 of one of Berlin's leading daily newspapers.
In 2020, we introduced high-throughput purification and peptide modification to help our customers and partners in faster and more reliable drug development. On this basis, we are sure to improve our product and service offer, covering the value chain in peptide manufacturing. Furthermore, we plan to take a more active role in development projects for novel peptide vaccines in infectious diseases, cancer, and rare disease indications.
From 2021 on, we will obtain our PEC-Linker from a renowned external manufacturer. With this, we can ensure adequate material supply for clinical-stage projects and generic peptides, meeting the highest quality standards that our customers demand.To provide the infrastructural groundwork for these future steps, we plan to move into more extensive lab facilities and further expand our team. These plans will be accompanied by our planned Series A financing round in the second quarter of 2021.
In short: The year to come holds great promise for the sustainable growth of our business and a new stream to exploit the potential of our PEC technology in the drug development arena.
Yes, 2020 was a challenging year, but it also was a successful one for Belyntic. We hope you can also look back on positive moments and are looking forward to 2021. We would be happy if you stay tuned for Belyntic news and continue the Belyntic journey with us. A recreational holiday season to you, your family, and friends. See, hear, and hopefully meet you in person or virtually in the new year 2021.
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