Based on these results, Seeberger and Schofield decided to make malaria an early target for the type of sugar-based vaccines and drug treatments they planned to develop at their new company, Ancora Pharmaceuticals. On a recent visit to Ancora’s lab in Beverly, MA, Seeberger-who flies in from Switzerland every four to six weeks-showed off the technology that he hopes will help make the malaria vaccine a reality.
Tucked into a corner of a large, nondescript office park, Ancora sublets its space from another startup: one long, narrow room that serves as an office area and a couple of work counters in a lab. It could be any other fledgling company short on money-except for the pair of boxy, automated sugar synthesizers that sit sequestered behind a closed door. While not quite the heart and soul of the tiny firm-those would be its founders-you might call these machines the company’s backbone.