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Client Success Story: Pärt Peterson (University of Tartu)

Client Success Story: Pärt Peterson (University of Tartu)

Pärt Peterson is an immunologist and a biologist. His “why” started as a child with the interest to discover. And it grew with time because of his love for common and more exotic birds.

Pärt believes that scientists and artists are a lot alike - their profession is “instability in a cube”, meaning they may not have a social status or stable income, but that want, is coded into their DNA.

Like artists, to be a successful scientist, a person needs to have that inner desire to discover.

“This may sound arrogant, but I’ve never worked a day in my life,” he comments.

We took our time to visit Pärt in his home university and workplace, University of Tartu, to interview him, and hear how Icosagen helped his science take flight.

How did Icosagen come into the picture?

Pärt’s team was interested in specific cytokines, and through Icosagen, had the opportunity to discover amazing antibodies against them.

It was a win-win situation for both sides, because that was the first time the company cloned antibodies from rats, while the primers were still in the early designing phase. It required designing a new solution through studying parts of the rat’s immunoglobulins.

Pärt had considered other options, but none were willing to clone antibodies from rats, especially since the lab work had to be done through a spleen or spleen cells. Thankfully, Icosagen was willing to pull through for him.

Besides, it seemed easier to bring science right next door to Icosagen, than to ship it to Japan, for example. Besides, he knew both Mart Ustav and Mart Ustav Jr. well, and the competence that Icosagen can offer.

To him, it’s human nature to trust someone that you already know.

About the antibodies…

“It’s human nature to trust someone that you already know.”

The discovered antibodies inhibit these project-specific cytokines, and help study how these immune cells interact with one another. These neutralising antibodies are extremely important in antiviral protection. The antibodies that Icosagen discovered fit nicely into this project.

Both targeting and neutralising antibodies are often used in medicine, in inflammatory and oncological diseases, while the use of proteins for biopharmaceutical use is also growing. This knowledge was one of the bases for this project.

University of Tartu and Pärt’s Relationship with Icosagen

According to Pärt, Icosagen stands out with their excellent competence and skill in antibody discovery, development and protein production.

“These antibodies for our project are very good and unique. Well, maybe not unique, but none are as good.”

Keeping this in mind, he believes that Icosagen’s collaboration with the university helps set a good biotechnological base for future scientists. To him, the company has been very forthcoming and welcoming towards the university, and he thinks that the collaboration is worth developing even further - as most people know, most of Estonia’s science comes from scientists with a PhD. And most go abroad to do science because of extended opportunities.

To encourage PhD scientists to stay in Estonia, Icosagen has the potential influence to help. With access to labs and suitable equipment, scientists have a new road open for them right at home.

Icosagen started as a spin-off for University of Tartu and has held collaborations between universities in high regard ever since.

It’s important for both the university and Icosagen that new STEM protégés keep coming forward with new and innovative ideas to advance the scientific field.

Client Success Story: Pärt Peterson (University of Tartu)
Pärt Peterson in his lab at University of Tartu
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