The coronavirus pandemic caused a revolution in the world of pharmaceuticals. mRNA technology is the key to future pharma success, according to Ribopro in Oss. This startup helps customers find their way in this new and exciting field.
‘Early 2020, nobody expected that mRNA would help curb the Covid-19 pandemic’, says Sander van Asbeck, CEO and founder of company Ribopro at the Pivot Park in Oss. ‘This is exactly when we launched our company.’
The timing turned out to be a lucky strike. It wasn’t long before Ribopro became buried in work. ‘Our clients saw the effectiveness of the mRNA-based corona vaccines and wanted to join the developments’, says Van Asbeck. ‘But they didn’t know how. We help them making a great start.’
Van Asbeck says mRNA-based medicines are safer than conventional drugs as well as more effective. ‘mRNA is an endogenous molecule’, he explains. ‘This allows us to design powerful drugs rationally, with fewer side effects.’
‘In 20 years, more than 90% will be mRNA-based’
Ribopro is both mRNA producer and technology supplier. ‘Our clients usually bring their own DNA-templates’, says Van Asbeck. ‘We add RNA-polymerases to create a few thousand transcripts in mRNA’, says Van Asbeck. ‘The isolated mRNA is then delivered to the client. We can also modify the mRNA-sequence to avoid unwanted immune responses. And we can package the mRNA in our patented lipid nanoparticles. These are especially designed to target the right place in the body.’
Since its inception, the company has grown a lot. ‘At least part of the reason is that we are located at the Pivot Park’, says Van Asbeck. ‘This location is easy to reach and has great facilities. Another reason is that we work at a fast pace. We keep our bureaucracy and number of meetings at a minimum.’
In 2023, Ribopro will launch a GMP-facility. ‘This will allow us to synthesize medicine-grade materials, suited for clinical trials’, says Van Asbeck. ‘Initially, our maximum production was 100 grams a week. This will grow to kilograms in 24 hours. To make that transition we are now building a machine for autonomous mRNA synthesis.’
Van Asbeck foresees a bright future for Ribopro, given the company’s growth trends so far and the broader pharma developments in the direction of mRNA technology. ‘My prediction? That within 20 years, over 90% of all new drugs will be mRNA-based.’
Break-even in 2023
Biochemist Sander van Asbeck – named most promising entrepreneur of the year at the 2022 Business Gala in Oss – founded Ribopro in early 2020. The startup currently has thirty employees. Van Asbeck hopes that the financial break-even point will be reached mid-2023, after the launch of a GMP-facility. This will allow the company to start competing with larger mRNA-producers.