“The basic research of protein structures and its business commercialization process”
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Robert Huber was invited to present a special lecture.
Korea University’s College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, along with the KU Advanced Graduate Program for Life Science, BK21 PULS school of life science and bio, and Eco-Leader Education Center for Wise Adaption to Climate Change, hosted a lecture by Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry Professor Emeritus Robert Huber at the Korea University International Center for Converging Technology Hall at 2:00 PM on October 31st, 2017. Professor Huber was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988, and on this day he shared with Korea University students his experiences regarding the commercialization process of protein structure basic research in presenting the lecture “New Ways of Vision: Protein Structures in Translational Medicine and Business Development, My Experience.”
Huber began his lecture by introducing the book What a Time I Am Having by fellow Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Max Perutz. He said that science started to see many achievements and discoveries with the invention of electromagnetic instruments which allowed scientists to view very tiny substances such as an atom or a cell. He talked about the use of light and the electromagnetic spectrum to visualize molecules in structural biology and molecular biology and further explained his view of how chemical biology could potentially extend to pharmacology,
Huber was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his achievements in determining the structure of a photosynthetic reaction center. Resulting from his crystallization of proteins, this discovery opened a new chapter in the research of membrane proteins as well as contributing to the understanding of the mechanism behind photosynthesis. He explained his membrane protein research process in the lecture. He emphasized that although proteolysis is a simple chemical reaction, it serves as a basis for the development of new medicines. Explaining his research on thrombin in relation to blood coagulation and the core hydrolysis of eukaryotes, proteasome, he discussed measures for applying protein hydrolysis to pharmacology.
While talking about the processes behind his research, Huber mentioned that we must also pay attention to the answers that nature provides. He explained that if we look at nature’s thrombin inhibitor, it combines similarly to a substrate and looks like an identical compound. Huber explained his research on proteasomes in more depth and presented examples of proteasomes inhibitors used in cancer and anticancer treatments. In discussing the danger of side-effects such as neuropathic toxicity, he emphasized that continuous research must be conducted.
Huber shared with the students his experience of how he commercialized his research and partnered with pharmaceutical companies. He established a structural and molecular biology research technology company, Proteros, which provided a platform to produce a lead compound needed by pharmaceutical and agricultural companies. He concluded his lecture by talking about a second company, SuppreMol, which manufactures antibodies that combine with Fc receptors to develop autoimmune disease medicines.
Huber presented an in-depth lecture about protein structure basic research to the students. He also spoke of his experiences with how research is connected to establishing a company and emphasized to the Korea University students the unlimited possibilities of research being applied to business models. After the lecture, Huber also shared his knowledge and experience when interacting with the students in the Q&A session.