New England Biolabs Descendant
The science-based culture that permeated CST in its early days as a lab within New England Biolabs (NEB), before its independent corporate formation in 1999, remains a guiding force for the company. “Research is a big part of our culture. In addition to antibody research, we have invested tremendously in our own basic research programs,” Dr. Thompson says.
Some projects are geared to monoclonal technology for commercial applications, but many other projects are focused on basic research—to understand the drivers for cancer, for example. The company has also developed technologies in mass spectrometry that helped it identify a large number of protein phosphorylation, methylation, and acetylation sites, as well as other previously unidentified cellular modifications. To curate these post-translational protein modifications, and those from other researchers, CST built and maintains the publically accessible PhosphoSitePlus® bioinformatics resource.
This focus on scientific research “…keeps us very closely in touch with the scientific community. We know firsthand what’s important to scientists because we deal with the same challenges as our customers,” Dr. Thompson points out. CST also collaborates with many of its customers to develop new antibodies. “This approach enables us to gain insights into the needs of the field, develop better antibodies, and get a jump on the competition, and provides our collaborators with access to antibodies before commercialization.”
“We aim to ensure that our customers can use our antibodies and have the support necessary to achieve the best results,” Dr. Thompson says. “Technical support is provided by scientists who have worked with the products firsthand, in testing and manufacturing. It’s not a phone bank.”
While this approach is good for the company, “Ultimately, we take this approach because it’s what we want to do,” Dr. Thompson says. Because CST is privately held and family owned, it is freed from many of the constraints faced by public companies. Instead, “Our founder and CEO Michael Comb, Ph.D., can run the company in a way that sustainably serves our customers, employees, scientists, and the local community for the long term.”
One of the ways CST does this is through the active participation of its scientists in publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals and lecturing at conferences.
The commitment to engage in research that advances broad scientific knowledge is a clear continuation of the NEB philosophy of giving something back to the community. That’s not accidental. When CST was just a lab within NEB, it focused on developing phospho-specific antibodies. “We were one of the first to develop and commercialize an antibody that recognizes a post-translationally modified protein, and we remain one of the premier antibody companies for this area,” Dr. Thompson says.