Bioactive substances are the speciality of BioTeSys GmbH, an Esslingen-based biotech company. The company works with a range of products, including cosmetics, plant and berry extracts and low-dosage, non-prescription food supplements. BioTeSys investigates the efficacy of the active ingredients of such products as well as the raw materials used to manufacture them.
BioTeSys has been active for ten years now in the identification and analysis of active ingredients found in animal and plant materials. The four founders, all of them scientists from the University of Hohenheim, started the company in 1999. While many other biotech companies went for rapid expansion, a fair number of them did not survive the difficult years around the turn of the century. BioTeSys, on the other hand, relied on networking and succeeded in establishing itself successfully on the market. Today, the company has a staff of fourteen and is directed by CEO and major shareholder Dr. Jürgen Bernhardt.
"I think the wish to be able to do everything can have a rather negative impact on the success of a company, especially in a sector that is as capital-intensive as the biotechnology sector. Instead, we have established a comprehensive network of well accredited and certified service providers with whom we have been cooperating for many years," said Dr. Bernhardt explaining the BioTeSys strategy. It seems his strategy has been a successful one. "We are unable to offer standard analytics at the same price as a laboratory that is specialised in such analytics. But whenever our customers require something a little out of the ordinary, then we are the partners of choice," said Bernhardt whose team consists of biologists, chemists, nutrition scientists and clinical trial experts.
The BioTeSys clients come from different areas; in particular from the food and cosmetics industries, as well as from the consumer health care area, including producers of food supplements and plant extracts, but also companies producing prescription products, for example in the area of eucaloric balanced diets (EBD). The BioTeSys clients all have the same requirements: they want to have the active ingredients of their products tested for criteria such as purity, stability and bioavailability and are interested in dose-effect profiles. The use of a new recipe and new ingredients requires the new substances to be tested for the content and quality of active ingredients.
Before the materials can be analysed, they have to be prepared and isolated. Different materials (body fluids, cell material, a broad range of end products) require different methods and steps. BioTeSys specialises in cracking even the most difficult materials, and makes their ingredients ready for analysis. One such example is delicate vitamins. They oxidise easily, for example when they are exposed to harsh cell disruptions. BioTeSys has developed a special method that enables the company to isolate the ingredients in both high quantity and quality.
BioTeSys carries out analyses such as the determination of individual chemical components using HPLC or fluorescence spectroscopy in house, also tests of active ingredients using cell cultures, pharmacokinetic studies, status surveys and simple prospective studies. In complex clinical trials, involving specific medical services, BioTeSys takes one or more of its competent partners on board. "We work together with clinical partners from all over Germany, preferring to work with smaller companies where possible. For me, important criteria for selecting a specific cooperation partner are whether they follow the correct procedure in recruiting volunteers at the same time as being able to recruit the required number of volunteers in a given period of time," said Bernhardt.
Even in cases when the clinical studies are conducted in the partner’s institution, BioTeSys will carry out the monitoring and pursue the further coordination of the activities associated with the manufacture of a new product. The clients can also rely on BioTeSys in terms of legal questions – lawyers and patent attorneys are part of the BioTeSys network. The company clearly aims to make a profit but BioTeSys also carries out basic research, which publicly funded projects provide Bernhardt with the necessary scope to do so: “Normally, a small company like BioTeSys does not have the financial muscle to carry out basic research. However, projects funded by the EU or BMBF provide us with the opportunity to do so,” said Bernhardt. He explained that BioTeSys carries out research into intelligent transport vehicles such as nanoparticles with which active substances can be guided safely to their destination in the human body. The preliminary work of a BMBF-funded BioProfile project has, in the meantime, progressed to a degree that enables BioTeSys to continue the research with its own resources. Another important topic is biomarkers of ageing. BioTeSys is one of 26 partners in an EU-funded project that focuses on the identification of suitable biomarkers that are involved in ageing processes and which are reliable and can be easily detected in the body. “The participation in this kind of project is like approbation from the scientific community,” said Bernhardt pleased with the improved public image of his company. BioTeSys is looking for a parameter that can be used by all partners involved, and also acts as the German recruitment centre. This is not a simple task, because large groups of volunteers are required for statistical safety.Speaking of image: BioTeSys has an excellent reputation because of its reliability, and high, certified quality standards. But is this enough to be able to withstand the current economic crisis? “Up until now, we have not been affected by the crisis. However, our products have a long lead time, so that the crisis might still hit us at a later time. On the other hand, the crisis also offers opportunities. If, for example, a company has to downsize, we will be there to help out, taking on work previously done by the company itself,” said Bernhardt, practising positive thinking. That is what he has to do – otherwise he would not be a businessman, and above all, not the successful businessman that he is.
Further information:BioTeSys GmbHDr. Jürgen Bernhardt (Managing Director)Schelztorstraße 54-5673728 EsslingenTel.: +49 (0)711 31057-150Fax: +49 (0)711 31057-151E-mail: bts(at)biotesys.com