Learn about Encor Biotechnology
- The Story behind Encor Biotechnology
- Philosophy of Encor Biotechnology
- Location of Encor Biotechnology
EnCor Biotechnology Inc. was founded by Dr. Gerry Shaw, who was born in Nottingham, England sometime late in the last millennium. After school and working in his first full time job for a year in a warehouse, he obtained a B.Sc. degree in Zoology with a focus on the then new field of Cell Biology from University College London. He then went on to obtain a Ph.D. degree in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Bray who was then working in King’s College London. This was in the Biophysics department, now renamed the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics. This department was founded by Sir John Randall, who was a codeveloper of the cavity magnetron, the vital component of allied wartime radar. This department was famous for the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, who generated the data that led to the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, and the department was still run by Wilkins at that time. Dr. Shaw then moved to the laboratory of Prof. Klaus Weber and Dr. Mary Osborn, in Goettingen, in what was then West Germany, as the Iron Curtain was still very much in existence and only a few kilometers away. This laboratory was the Department of Biochemistry, later renamed the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. This institute, also known as the Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute was extremely well funded and an excellent place for a young scientist to learn cutting edge technologies. Then as now, one of the most useful tools available in biological research was a collection of good antibodies, and as part of his research projects Dr. Shaw learned how to make both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. Many of these antibodies became widely used by him and collaborators, and some also became commercially available.
In 1986 Dr. Shaw moved to the University of Florida to set up his own research laboratory. In this lab he continued to make a variety of antibodies to aid in his various research interests, and also learned the molecular biological techniques necessary to express proteins in bacteria in bulk. This turned out to be a very useful thing to know, since antibodies can be readily generated against such recombinant proteins. Once again many of these newer antibodies became popular with collaborators and several found their way to commercial vendors, initially Chemicon (now owned by Millipore-EMD), then Novus Biologicals, Novocastra (now owned by Leica), Sigma-Aldrich and Zymed (now owned by Life Technologies). In fact some of these antibodies became so successful commercially that shipping them out to companies and particularly making new batches became a major drain on Dr. Shaw’s time and energy, and a research lab in a University is not really supposed to be generating products for sale. It was at this stage that he decided that the most appropriate way forward was to found a small company dedicated to the manufacture and marketing of these and other high quality antibodies. The company was founded in December 1999 and first occupied lab space in the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator under the name of EnCor Biotechnology Inc. in December 2002. EnCor continues to supply Dr. Shaw’s antibodies to a growing list of other companies now including Abcam, Abnova, Cell Signaling Technology, Covance, Thermo Fisher, Santa Cruz and many others and is also selling directly to researchers. The company is now routinely making more novel high quality antibodies against proteins of particular interest and has several research projects underway aimed at commercializing some of Dr. Shaw’s recent scientific discoveries. The company recently started marketing some of the high resolution immunofluorescence images made during the process of characterizing these antibodies.
In November 2006 EnCor Biotechnology “graduated” from the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and moved into a converted warehouse in Gainesville. EnCor has been increasingly profitable every year since 2004, which is fairly unusual since many biotechnology companies don’t ever make a profit. Dr. Shaw retired from the University of Florida in March 2013 to concentrate on running EnCor Biotechnology. So ironically Dr. Shaw’s first and likely last places of employment have been warehouses.
Prior to working in EnCor Biotechnology, we were full time researchers working in neuroscience, structural biology and cell biology. We found that good antibody reagents were essential to get any kind of quality data and we also found that many commercial reagents were not of high enough quality to be useful. In fact many of them were a waste of both time and money. As a result we often made our own reagents which then became popular with other researchers; we had taken the trouble to understand their specificity and utility and could document these findings. At EnCor we are building on this experience by generating further reagents which we extensively characterize. We are confident that these reagents will work as advertized in the assays we have described. In most cases the antibodies are selected from a panel of reagents, so they are not simply the result of one attempt to make an antibody to a particular protein. We have also instituted rigorous quality control in antibody manufacturing so that there is little if any batch to batch variability.
Every company should have an area of focus; we are a company which grew out of research in the general areas of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, so the vast majority of our reagents are aimed in these areas. We also found that antibodies which can be used as standard lab reagents to identify cell types, developmental stages, cell structures or pathological alterations were particular valuable and marketable, and so we have concentrated on the generation of such products. This explains our focus on neurofilament proteins, MAP proteins, GFAP, UCHL1, NSE and many others, all of which are useful not just to scientists interested in those particular proteins but also to those who want to use antibodies as useful cell type, structural, developmental, damage or disease markers.
The proteins we have targeted happen to be among the most abundant of the nervous system and many are useful since they are only found in certain cell types. It is obvious that when nervous tissue is damaged or degenerates these proteins will be released into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood, where they may be detected with appropriate antibodies. So detection of neurofilament proteins or UCHL1, both only found in neurons, provides evidence that neurons are dying. Detection of GFAP would indicate astrocytic death and compromise to the blood brain barrier. Detection of these proteins requires specific antibody reagents and is usually done using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA). Since we have made large panels of antibodies to these proteins we have been able to develop many such ELISA assays, some of which are already marketed with many more in progress. So a second and newer focus of our company is the development and running of assays for informative biomarker proteins which are proving to be useful in both research and clinical contexts.
Finally, as part of generating data to show that our antibodies work as they should, we have invested heavily in showing that they work well not only on western blots but especially in immunofluorescence and immunocytochemistry. This has resulted in the generation of images which we have been complemented on many times, and which other companies have used for advertizing and other purposes over many years. So we recently decided to market some of these images and they provide the third and newest focus of our company. So you can now order high quality prints of these directly from our site. In addition we are able to offer the same images as Christmas wrapping paper and wall paper! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this.
Based on our previous experiences we also think that antibodies and antibody based kits are general overpriced, particularly if they do not work as advertized. Our philosophy is therefore a simple one, we will only sell a reagent if we think that it is good enough to produce high quality results, capable of producing the same results reliably in other laboratories and of producing data which will survive rigorous peer review. So we sell excellent products at reasonable prices.