Eric Hovestreydt, Founder and CEO
Innovation is born when few dare to break the status quo and develop new technology. Even fewer succeed in harmonising the novel innovation with the practical landscape of day-to-day usage at an industrial scale. One such successful journey is that of Switzerland-based ELDICO Scientific, that had the courage and knowhow to identify the existing bottlenecks in the application of crystallography and introduce an optimised instrument to mitigate them.
In the pharmaceutical industry, it is critical to know exactly the spatial structure of a chemical compound. For instance, understanding the right three-dimensional arrangement is essential in order to develop and approve active drug ingredients. The substances can be examined in detail with the help of X-ray structure analysis if they are in the form of individual large crystals. However, most compounds are in the form of powders, and growing crystals large enough for X-ray experiments need weeks or even years. This proves to be a lengthy and expensive process for drug development. While electron microscopes require no major crystallization and allow investigation in the nanometer range, it´s cumbersome and delivers mediocre quality data, thus providing limited accuracy for atomic structure determination.
Recognising these limitations, ELDICO Scientific combined existing methods to create an innovative yet simple technique. The company introduced a dedicated electron diffractometer to analyse solid compounds, enabling industrial and scientific researchers to characterise hitherto unmeasurable nanocrystalline systems. These optimised and ready-to-install instruments produce high-quality structural information in the nanocrystal regime directly and deliver reliable results within a few hours, at up to 70 percent less cost per measurement. For pharmaceutical companies, this allows accurate characterisation of pre-clinical candidates to confirm functionality as a potential drug, bringing them to market faster and thus saving billions in lead discovery and up to 6 months for the process. “We offer the first commercially-viable electron diffractometer that provides detailed information about the compound down to its atomic level in an easy-to-use, cost-efficient and accurate way”, says Eric Hovestreydt, Founder and CEO of ELDICO Scientific.
While ELDICO’s commercially available instrument yields incredible potential, its reporting process is extremely simple. The material sample in the solid form is placed on a grid/mesh inside the machine for observation. Once a crystallite is chosen for investigation, the user can switch over to diffraction mode and start the automatic measurement.
This will take only a few seconds and produces a few thousand spectra which are processed by the software provided for structure analysis.
With the press of a button, the required material structure can be viewed from the data, whether in the molecule or atom form. This enables users to examine the compounds and deduct various characteristics. In pharma, it can help to figure out the match between compounds. For instance, Coronavirus is recognisable by the spikes on its surface; if we can find a molecule that fits on top of the spike, it can be prevented from entering cells and replicating inside the body.
Through its ingenious capabilities, ELDICO’s innovative instruments are gaining widespread appreciation and recognition among its customers. Moreover, the instrument exhibits Swiss precision down to its components, for example, the DECTRIS QUADRO detector. ELDICO catered to the needs of various customers across numerous industries and received nothing but praises. This includes energy-storage research, water purification or catalysts for the petrochemical industry. “As an example, for Gripostad® we were able to determine the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) paracetamol within just a few hours, directly out of the capsule, without any chemical preparation”, highlights Hovestreydt.
ELDICO also offers an entire range of maintenance services after installation. The company provides preventive and corrective maintenance on a regular basis along with training for technicians, including ones for specific applications. Further, the ELDICO team can remotely access the system to analyse the performance and calibrate the system. ELDICO does not only keep in touch with the community by imparting relevant information on several crystallography subjects for enthusiasts, but it is also following a co-creative approach with the users in order to find solutions for their most urgent needs. With the help of a first-class Scientific Advisory Board consisting of pioneers in the field in both academia and industry, the company is confident of the state-of-the-art specifications of its device, such as: disruptive horizontal design and an innovative probe-handling mechanism, refinement down to R1 values <10 percent in 75 percent of the cases, resolution of up to 0.84 Å with 60-70 percent complete datasets having a Rint<20 percent, up to 160 kV source acceleration.
After showcasing the fully-assembled alpha device at the 25th Congress of the International Union of Crystallography inPraguein August 2021, ELDICO plans to expand to the protein/biostructures area, where compounds are more complicated. “We are therefore working on a further sophisticated instrument for protein analysis and will be ready at the beginning of next year”, remarks Hovestreydt. The company also looks forward to involving in quality control, which demands detecting polymorphs and contamination down to ppm ranges. With the ability to generate detailed ID on nanometer-sized samples, electron diffraction instruments can provide faster and more accurate information than present standards relying on PXRD. It can also be used for IP protection and fraud detection, making the device the perfect completion of any X-ray or TEM park. As part of its geographical expansion, ELDICO plans to focus predominantly on Europe for the next two years. Further, the company is interested in hiring more resources to strengthen its expert team to continue developing innovative ideas and effectively translating them to the practical world.