The Company

Axxam is a technology-oriented research biotech company with leading expertise, know-how and cutting-edge technologies for target validation, for the development of advanced screening assay systems and for lead validation profiling.

Axxam was founded in May 2001 and it is located at the prestigious San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park in Milan.

The company has about 1,300 sq. mt. of fully equipped and state-of-the-art laboratories and offices.

The team consist in 45 qualified people having an average of more than 5 years of expertise in the drug discovery processes. The Company's mission is to become a premier provider for the drug discovery industry thereby using and providing several tailor made technology platforms in the fields of post-genomic and lead discovery .

The technological platforms

Axxam's strongest asset is its outstanding experience and performance in the development of assays for high-throughput and ultra-high throughput screening, which can be appreciated with the characteristics of our technology platforms.

Therefore Axxam's main activities are based on:
- engineering human targets and signal detection systems in mammalian cells to develop the most advanced generation of screening assays for drug discovery
- tools developed to set up and test those assays on the most relevant industrial standards e.g. 384 and 1536 well plate format with a strong emphasise on highly customized solutions.

The main focus of targets is on GPCRs, nuclear hormone receptors, transporters and ion channels, whereas our main detection systems are based on fluorescence and luminescence technologies suitable as for 384 as well as for 1536 well plates formats. Our screening assays mimic the normal physiological situation and are characterised by a very high sensitivity and specificity to detect molecules, both natural and artificial that match the target. This allows us to make screens for new or better drugs that either block the target function (antagonists), or mimic the action of the natural ligand (agonist).

Our technological platform consists in four modules, which are all interactive and integrated as an assembly line process, which allows the rapid and accurate execution of the "from gene to screen" program:
- molecular biology module (PCR station, TaqMan, "in situ" hybridisation station)
- cell biology module (2 FACS, 20 clean benches, 20 cell incubators)
- signal detection module (384 and 1536 well luminescence and fluorescence readers, FLIPR)
- liquid handling module (384 and 1536 pipetting stations, CyBio & Matrix)

Products & Services

Axxam is providing some special and highly customised services to pharmaceutical companies:

1. Target Validation
Our method of choice for target validation is based on mRNA expression with quantitative PCR (Taq-Man) and with in-situ hybridisation. For that purpose we have created a collection containing more than 75 different very well annotated human tissues.
In our expression database we have already collected the comprehensive expression pattern in more than 75 different tissues for nearly all human GPCRs and nuclear hormone receptors.

2. Gene Cloning
We offer to our customers several cloning services including full length cloning of known genes, EST assembly cloning etc.
The genes will be cloned into the vector of choice and all constructs will be delivered together with their verified sequence and an electronic plasmid map.

3. Protein Production

We offer our customers a recombinant protein production service which includes the cloning of the gene of interest, the expression in the most suitable heterologous expression system and the purification and characterisation. The identity and purity of the purified
protein will be verified by Mass-Spectrometry analysis and when requested by the specific activity of the protein.

4. Bioassays for Screening

Based on our long experience of developing bioassays for high throughput screening applications, we can offer very sensitive and easy to use assay systems for the lead identification & optimisation process. Our bioassays are either biochemical based or cell based. Common to both assay types is the complete lack of any radioactivity and the high sensitivity in the signal detection process, which allows the detection of a minimum of compound activity. All our assay systems have to fulfill a series of high standard criteria (signal to noise ratio, standard deviation, reproducibility, assay stability, 96 well, 384 well and 1536 well behaviour) before they are transferred to the customer. Any assay system will be specifically adapted to the needs of the customer.
Our main expertise for enzymatic assays is based on target families of proteases and kinases. Based on luminescence or fluorescence as signal detection method, we can offer assay systems with a very high degree of sensitivity.
Cell based assays are becoming more and more the method of choice for the screening of targets based on GPCRs, ion channels, nuclear hormone receptors and cytokine receptors. We have a strong know-how for setting up assays for all these important drug targets, which are based on luminescence or fluorescence signal detection methods.

5. Lead Profiling

Lead verification, secondary assay testing etc. is a tedious and time consuming post- HTS-work. We have generated a generic "lead profiling" platform for testing potential leads for specificity and toxicity against more than 100 important target genes. This platform can also be used for lead optimisation using conventional or combinatorial chemistry approaches.

More information is available at:
Axxam S.r.l.
San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park
Via Olgettina, 58
20132, Milano (Italy)

phone ++39 02 2105600
fax ++39 02 39786102