Covalys, Provider of SNAP-tag, and EPFL Announce Agreement on New Protein Tag Technology, ACP-tag™

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Covalys Biosciences and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) today announced an agreement allowing Covalys to exclusively commercialize the novel ACP-tag technology.

Covalys Biosciences and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) today announced an agreement allowing Covalys to exclusively commercialize the novel ACP-tag technology. ACP-tag is particularly suited for experiments with membrane proteins using living cells, and to covalently and specifically modify secreted proteins, such as antibodies. The products based on ACP-tag will complement Covalys’ portfolio of kits based on its successful SNAP-tag™ technology to label and immobilize proteins.

The ACP-tag, developed by Prof. Kai Johnsson of EPFL’s Protein Engineering Laboratory, is based on a new concept: the small polypeptide tag is genetically fused to a protein of interest and upon expression is labeled with small probes using a specific synthase. “The ACP-tag is not a self-labeling protein tag like SNAP-tag, as it requires a synthase” explains Kai Johnsson, who is also the inventor of SNAP-tag and a co-founder and member of the Board of Covalys. “However, for some applications this has been proven to be an advantage, as it allows you to strictly confine labeling to the extracellular part of membrane proteins. Furthermore, ACP-tag is smaller and contains no cysteins, making it ideally suited to tag antibodies and other secreted proteins with disulfide bridges.”

“We are extremely glad to have this exciting new technology in our portfolio” said Christoph Bieri, CEO of Covalys. “Together with SNAP-tag we now can offer scientists an impressive toolset for High-Content-Screening (HCS), functional genomics and proteomics.” The concept had received quite some interest, with several independent publications appearing in top-tier journals. Bieri points out that “Kai Johnsson’s group is clearly leading the field of combining chemistry with biology to create new tools for research.”

Bringing innovative technologies to the market through start-ups like Covalys is a high level priority for EPFL. “Efficient cooperation an technology transfer is really something that makes us very happy; and this is how it is with Covalys!“ said Gabriel Clerc, head of technology transfer at EPFL. “We very much trust in Covalys’ ability to further develop and bring successfully to the market the SNAP – and ACP – tag technologies.”

Covalys said that first materials for test customers will be available later this month. Products for membrane protein labeling are expected to be launched in 2006.

About Covalys Biosciences AG:

Covalys provides products that help researchers in academic institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech companies to improve the efficiency of research into proteins and their function. Its SNAP-tag technology is the first commercially available protein tag which covalently links itself to any chemical probe provided as a substrate. Covalys’ technology is exclusively licensed from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Founded in June 2002, Covalys has headquarters in Witterswil, Switzerland. For more information, visit Covalys’ website:

About Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne:

At EPFL more than 200 laboratories are permanently engaged in innovation, discovering original technological methods, processes and devices. Research encourages the creation of new fields which embrace classical subjects, notably the basic sciences, engineering sciences, life sciences and architecture. This commitment draws upon a solid fundamental research capacity. A complete range of services stimulates and facilitates technology transfer, development of partnerships and creation of companies. For more information:


SNAP-tag and ACP-tag are trademarks of Covalys Biosciences AG

Media Contact:

Tom Gibbs

Covalys Biosciences AG

Phone: +41 61 725 20 50

Media Contact:

Gabriel Clerc

EPFL - Service des Relations Industrielles

Phone: +41 21 693 35 82

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