Celtarys, biochemistry at the service of new drug discovery

The USC spin-off begins the commercialization of innovative chemical tools for the pharmaceutical industry

María Majellaro (left), Eddy Sotelo and Sonia Martínez Arca, founders of Celtarys. Photo: Celtarys.

Celtarys, spin-off of the University of Santiago (USC), was born three years ago at the initiative of the professor of the Faculty of Chemistry Eddy Sotelo, who since 2009 has been carrying out research in his laboratory on the use of chemical tools based on fluorescence for the research of new drugs. The project became part of the Ignicia program in 2018 and at the beginning of this year a spin-off was created that will carry out the commercialization of the products designed from the research carried out.

Sonia Martínez Arca, CEO at Celtarys, explains that the start-up’s activity focuses on the discovery of a type of molecule called “ligands” that are used in biotechnology to advance the discovery of new drugs. “We are working on the investigation of fluorescent ligands that are an alternative to the radioactive ones that have been used until now. They are difficult elements to design and synthesize and for this reason there are currently few fluorescent ligands for clinical trials. What we do is accelerate the synthesis process to make fluorescent ligands that can work on any type of target during the research process of a drug ”, indicates Martínez Arca.

The ligands that Celtarys works with make it possible to avoid the use of radioactive elements in the research process and also represent cost savings. It is a type of product based on biotechnology with great potential for development in the coming years. The Galician company already has a validated technology in this field and is now beginning the marketing phase of its products.

“The development costs of new drugs have increased a lot in recent years and biotechnology companies need to improve their competitiveness in this regard,” says Martínez Arca. Celtarys’ business model will be based on three elements: the sale of the company’s catalog of fluorescent ligands, the development of new ligands for companies that have new targets in their research, and reaching agreements with other companies in the sector that can apply Celtarys technology in different types of tests. 

Martínez Arca explains that the main objective of the company at the moment is to publicize its technology and achieve a good situation in international purchases. Celtarys is currently in the final stage of reaching a major funding round to develop its business plan. The forecasts are that the company could reach a turnover of more than 3 million euros in 2024 and in this way it would already be able to obtain benefits.

The company has a group of three main researchers and also has the support of the research group of Mabel Loza, professor of Pharmacology at USC and head of the BioFarma research group, which is in charge of the pharmacological validation of the tools developed by Celtarys.

CELTARYS HAS THE MEDIUM-TERM OBJECTIVES TO GIVE KNOW ITS TECHNOLOGY AND GET A GOOD SITUATION IN INTERNATIONAL PURCHASING

Martínez Arca highlights the importance that inclusion in the Ignicia program had for the project, since it allowed them to encourage both the financing part and the commercial development. He also points out that Celtarys is part of the BioIncubaTech program, which is facilitating the company’s presence at various virtual fairs in the biotechnology sector and also helping the company’s brand positioning. Both the two aid programs are part of the support lines of the Galician Innovation Agency (Gain) of the Xunta de Galicia.

USC is part of Celtarys shareholders and also holds a patent developed by the company, which has a technology transfer agreement with the university. For its part, the Xunta’s venture capital body, XesGalicia, also provides financing and forms part of the shareholders of the new company.

 

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