Began in an NUS laboratory…
A technology first developed in an NUS laboratory is now being used globally to develop safer injectable medications, such as vaccines and intravenous drugs. This same technology is also saving the lives of the horseshoe crab, a species endangered in many parts of the world. A husband-wife team, consisting of Associate Prof Ho Bow from the Department of Microbiology and Prof Ding Jeak Ling from the Department of Biological Science, worked on this research, which has since become one of NUS’ most successfully commercialised technologies.
Pharmaceutical and medical device companies routinely use horseshoe crab blood to ensure medication and equipment are free from bacterial endotoxins. This is due to an enzyme in the crab’s blood, Factor C, which triggers the clotting process when in contact with bacteria endotoxins. Collecting horseshoe crab blood is a time-consuming and costly process. Prof Ding and Assoc Prof Ho developed a method to produce Factor C within a laboratory. By using a recombinant DNA-based system, they successfully cloned the Factor C enzyme. Not only does the clone react with endotoxins - even at low concentrations- but it is more stable and chemically-consistent than the natural form.
Licensed around the world!
Supported by the NUS Industry Liaison Office, this ground-breaking technology was licensed for production and use around the world. Global life sciences leader Lonza incorporated the NUS technology into its endotoxin detection kits and online endotoxin monitoring system. Another US-based company, BioDtech Inc, applied related technologies to develop products that remove bacterial endotoxins from pharmaceuticals and fluids.
Research for cloning Factor C undertaken by Prof Ding and Assoc Prof Ho Late 1980s
Patents for two technologies granted 1998 & 2004
Lonza licensed the recombinant Factor C technology 2000
BioDtech licensed the sushi peptide technology 2011
Prof Ding and Assoc Prof Ho received the Outstanding NUS Innovator Award for their research efforts 2012