Meritics Ltd is a company that supplies and provides service support for a range of particle characterisation instrumentation to industrial, research and academic institutions in the UK since 2003. Additionally, it offers a range of consumables, analysis services and consultancy.
Meritics has identified therapeutic agents called biologics (including Biopharma) as a sector where there are opportunities to use nanoparticles and cell/protein-based therapies. The sector is moving rapidly and requires instrumentation and ways to measure the properties of bio-particles, such as size, shape and concentration to produce materials that behave in the desired manner.
To enter this high-growth sector, Meritics requires deep understanding of this novel and evolving technology, the development of new capabilities, and its applications.
Biologists from within the Aston Centre for Membrane Protein & Lipid Research (AMPL) offered scientific guidance on how to refine Meritics’ particle analysis instruments and services to ensure their devices meet the stringent market requirements. This Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) facilitates the company’s strategy to enter the fastest-growing sector in the pharmaceutical industry.
“The synergy of Aston's research resources and rigorous academic approach combined with the company's commercial understanding of the instruments, makes this an impossible project for a consultancy to replicate. Aston’s extensive knowledge in biology and biological entities is crucial for our wider sales and technical staff.” Brian Miller, director at Meritics.
The project was led by Dr Alice Rothnie and Dr Alan Goddard from Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences. Dr Rothnie has over 14 years of experience working with liposomes, viral and cellular systems, while Dr Goddard’s research specialises in providing a solution to the industry by applying membrane biology. Dr Goddard brought over a decade of experience in biological membranes and nanoparticles – mainly focusing on liposomes – into the KTP. The academics are part of the Aston Centre for Membrane Protein & Lipid Research (AMPL), a specialist research group with a track record of biological particle characterisation.
Also working on this partnership as KTP Associate was Dr Megan Cox, whose proven expertise in biochemistry drove the innovation and research behind the project. Following the completion of the project, Dr Cox has been employed by Meritics as a Technical Specialist, using biological expertise to assess instrument parameters for biological entities.
“Working in partnership with Meritics has allowed us to transfer our extensive experience of biological particles into industry. We have formed an exciting partnership which has continued past the end of the formal project, enabling cutting-edge research to be performed at Aston using the latest equipment.” Dr Alan Goddard, Senior Lecturer, School of Biosciences, Aston University.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic that saw many pharmaceutical laboratories close, and academics transfer their knowledge to aid the treatment of the disease, the project managed to focus on systems that would have the largest impact and provided Meritics with significant data and proof-of-concept applications required to widen the company’s product range into the biological market. It also broadened the company’s knowledge of biological applications and helped bridge gaps between the areas of interest and the limitations of the analysers.
Together, the team has embedded the knowledge of biological particle characterisation, allowing Meritics to expand into the bio-pharmaceutical sector. Analysis of different biologics will optimise protocols for use across this area, improving therapeutics and establishing Meritics as a market leader.
Another benefit of the partnership is that Dr Cox was able to highlight real-world applications of fundamental science and deliver lectures on nanoparticle analysis, further developing the University’s biochemistry programmes. The partnership also produced a paper on Biophysical analysis of lipidic nanoparticles that has been published in the journal ‘Methods’.
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