Catalyst Biosciences and Scifeon

Catalyst Biosciences is a research and clinical development biopharmaceutical company focused on engineering proteases to create both improved and novel molecules to improve treatment of disorders of the complement system. Based in San Francisco, California, Catalyst Biosciences has its own R&D laboratories but also uses CROs across Europe for production and testing of new therapeutic compounds.

Since October 2020, Catalyst Biosciences has used the Scifeon platform in their R&D operations to keep track of their growing amounts of research data. A year into their collaboration, we spoke to Assay Scientist, Shyam Iyer, PhD, of Catalyst Biosciences about their experiences with the Danish LIMS.


From initial contact through the implementation and customization phase to the ongoing development of new modules: Every step of the cooperation between Catalyst Biosciences and Scifeon has been handled remotely between San Francisco, California, and Gladsaxe, Copenhagen.

“Working with the scientific team at Scifeon has been fantastic. It’s been a very fruitful virtual cooperation, with valuable ideas and input going back and forth,” says Shyam Iyer. “Scifeon has been a development partner in the process. Initially, we were just looking at the platform as a data repository. However, the Shipment and Inventory modules that have been developed as well as workflow management wasn’t something we originally intended. They were very positive developments that came from the collaboration as we got more minds to evaluate our situation and identify what our needs were.”


The collaboration between Catalyst Biosciences and Scifeon began in October 2020 with a strong focus on customizing Scifeon to Catalyst Bioscience’s particular needs. “Other platforms were in consideration, but in the end we chose Scifeon because of its flexibility, “says Shyam Iyer. “We’re not a typical pharmaceutical or biologics company, because of our protease engineering platform. So being able to customize the LIMS to make the protease the focal point is very important to us,” he continues.

“Where other platforms assign a task or batch number based on a DNA sequence, Scifeon allows us to modify that, so that a protein we’ve made in one production becomes the head of everything that comes downstream of it.” “Another valuable function is the ability to set up our data tables in a format that is project specific. Because that allows us to compare trends of the data over time or how different types of assays interface with each other to give us a global picture for each program.”


To Shyam Iyer, working with Catalyst Bioscience’s research data has become more efficient after the company implemented Scifeon as its R&D LIMS. “It’s much, much better with Scifeon than it was before. Previously, data used to be in Excel files with a giant pivot table. And as the size of the Excel files got bigger and bigger, it got much harder to use. We had to constantly refresh the Excel file to keep getting new plots, new figures, new graphs, etc.

Scifeon can help provide an overview of your screening campaign logistics – to help you track the preparation and characterization of individual compounds or protein variants.

But when we moved over to Scifeon, we just made a data link to an analytics platform that is constantly updated, which is much more hands off. It’s definitely more efficient, and it saves a lot of time. To me, Scifeon has been a very positive experience.”


Catalyst Biosciences uses CROs in Denmark, Switzerland and Canada for production and testing of new protein compounds, with the CROs manually sending research data back to Catalyst Biosciences in San Francisco. “We have CROs and collaborators across Europe screening molecules to advance the most promising candidates. Together with Scifeon, we’re working on a new module called CRO Access. We want our external partners to be able to simply drop off all the data sets they produce straight into our Scifeon database,” says Shyam Iyer. “Today, it’s done manually, so this initiative will remove a lot of hurdles. The CROs will receive a template and an access code for uploading their research data. That will make things easier for us as well as for them. Not to mention more secure.”


The Scifeon platform also provides Catalyst Biosciences with a highly useful ELN. “When we do experiments in the lab or have new ideas for cool and complicated designs for new therapeutics, we can save them as entries in the ELN. That helps us time stamp ideas for patent purposes, and it helps us keep track of what we’re doing on a continual basis,” explains Shyam Iyer.

“The Scifeon team is continuously updating the ELN, adding new and more useful features. One of the things we’re rolling out now is the Inventory function. Once that’s in place, it’ll allow us to communicate depletion of materials and things like that very easily across the board. Making proteins takes weeks, it’s something you need to plan ahead for, and the Inventory in the ELN will definitely help in that regard.”

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