The work that ultimately lead to the formation of the Iduron Company actually began over 30 years ago in the University of Manchester in what was then The Department of Medical Oncology, a research unit set up in the Paterson Institute by the Cancer Research Campaign (now Cancer Research UK) to develop and test new drug treatments for cancer patients. At that time it was known that the surface properties of cancer cells differed from normal cells in a number of ways, most strikingly in the composition of cell membrane carbohydrates.
Research in the Medical Oncology Department was focused on the polysaccharide heparan sulfate, a glycosaminoglycan that is now known to have critical roles in many cellular processes including the growth, migration and differentiation of cells, hepatic and vascular lipid metabolism, neural path finding and cognitive functions, blood coagulation and tissue repair and regeneration. Heparan sulfate is also commonly targeted by pathogenic organisms during infection of target cells.
At the time that Iduron was founded (March 2005) new methods of analysis developed in Manchester and elsewhere were beginning to reveal the structural basis of protein recognition by heparan sulfate. These exciting new developments suggested a business opportunity in the form of provision of saccharide structures initially derived from heparin that reproduced some of the essential features of the protein recognition domains of heparan sulfate. The business support organizations in the University of Manchester (University of Manchester Incubator Company and The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Company), the technology arm of Cancer Research UK (CRT) and the Paterson Institute were very supportive of proposals to establish Iduron as a company based in the Medical Oncology laboratories in the Paterson where the necessary infrastructure existed for preparation and quality control of Iduron’s products. In return the University and Paterson Institute received a significant shareholding in Iduron and, together with CRT, benefit from a profit share agreement with the company.
Over the past few years Iduron has significantly expanded its product range to embrace all the major glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) including dermatan and chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and a set of heparin/ heparin sulfate mimics made by controlled sulfation and epimerization of the heparan precursor, K5 polysaccharide We also offer GAG disaccharide standards, GAG-degrading enzymes and a 96-well Heparin/GAG binding plate for investigating protein-GAG interactions in an Elisa-type format.
Collaboration with other companies and groups in the University of Manchester have been an essential part of this expansion and we welcome ideas and proposals from the commercial and academic sectors for new product development.