NMR techniques are used in quality control and research to determine the content and purity of a chemical sample and its molecular structure; they are a vital part of the drug discovery process, particularly to validate high throughput screening (HTS) results and perform fragment-based drug design, a novel method that has become a powerful driver of drug discovery in the past years. Like HTS, it is based on high-volume testing of samples but takes advantage of the smaller chemical space of fragment molecules and provides more information to assess the potential of new compounds.
Such methods are sought-after in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors as they can accelerate drug discovery and development procedures. However, existing screening techniques fail to address constraints related to sample conditions and assay development—a procedure for gauging the activity and quantity of a drug or biochemical compound in an organic sample or organism.
Based in Zurich and aiming to into a fast-growing market of CHF 400 million with 9.8% CAGR, NexMR is developing a proprietary nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique that significantly accelerates screening processes for drug discovery pipelines, allowing libraries comprised of thousands of molecules to be screened within days. The solution detects hits and delivers their characterization within seconds.
Unlike existing methods such as X-ray crystallography or surface plasmon resonance, NexMR’s approach only requires minimal assay development, thus avoiding early attrition rates in cases where the target cannot be crystallized or immobilized onto a surface. Currently, NexMR can process 1,500 samples per day. The company is also developing compound libraries compatible with its novel NMR technique.
“The support from Venture Kick has been key to achieving our MVP,” said Félix Torres. “Kicker’s Camps are valuable for growing an entrepreneurial mindset and building a strong network in the Swiss biotech ecosystem. ”The startup will invest the CHF 150,000 awarded by Venture Kick in implementing the production of their MVP, developing the accompanying software, and business development activities.
The startup was co-founded by Félix Torres, a BRIDGE fellow at ETH Zurich and the company’s CEO; Matthias Bütikofer, a Ph.D. candidate at ETHZ specializing in NMR; Prof. Roland Riek, head of the BioNMR lab at ETHZ and scientific advisor; and, Anil Sethi, a serial entrepreneur.