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MicroMol GmbH and “the fine art of life science”

MicroMol GmbH carries out microbiological, molecular and cell biological analyses, is active in research and development, performs validations and produces and sells laboratory products for the life sciences industry. This brief description reflects a broad product and service portfolio that addresses a wide range of different clients, including companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and in the medical technology, industrial biotechnology and nutrition sectors.

Founders and managing directors of MicroMol GmbH: Dr. Andrea and Dr. Andreas Dreusch © BIOPRO/ Womann

Andrea and Andreas Dreusch established MicroMol GmbH in 1996. “Back then, outsourcing was a major issue for many companies, including big biotechs,” said Andrea Dreusch. “Our laboratory services fitted quite well into the biotech hype of the time and support came from many quarters.” Although outsourcing started emerging in the late 1990s, it never achieved a real breakthrough. This did not have a huge effect on the Dreusch’s business, as the two company founders had adopted a multi-pronged approach right from the start. The couple divided business priorities according to each person’s expertise: Andrea established the company’s microbiology department, and Andreas focused specifically on biotechnological research and development. “We each focused on a specific topic, which also reduced the risk of us getting in each other’s way,” said Andrea with a smile.

The company’s molecular biological, biochemical and cell biological laboratories were gradually added over the past few years and it now has 20 employees who use the various different methods for client services or in R&D (research & development) projects. “We are particularly effective as our broad range of methods enables us to deal with the entire complexity of R&D projects.”

The MicroMol laboratories employ a broad range of different methods from the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology that attract clients from different industries. © Valérie Goovaerts

MicroMol not only employs a broad range of different laboratory methods, it also serves an equally broad range of different clients. “Our laboratory tools and services appeal to many different industries,” said Andrea Dreusch listing some of the company’s clients: a small company that supplies equipment to dental practices and wanted to add a rapid periodontosis test to its service portfolio; a university that needed support in protein expression, cloning and PCR; a biotech company that produces drugs and flavours in fermenters and needed a bacteriophage test. Bacteriophage contaminations might cause an entire process to break down and swallow up huge amounts of money, which is why early intervention is crucial. “The identification of bacteriophages is one of our specialities; only a handful of companies offer such tests,” said Andrea.

Validation and own research projects

Andrea Dreusch believes that the field of validation is MicroMol’s strongest asset. Validation is the testing of the proper function and reliability of new processes. “The majority of our clients come from the pharmaceutical and food industries. But we have also validated devices that are used for the decontamination of soil and are involved as appraisers in a European-wide legal dispute.” On request, MicroMol GmbH can also support clients in the introduction of a validated process and subsequent quality and process management. 

In addition to the aforementioned, MicroMol is also involved in scientific research projects. An ongoing project is being carried out in cooperation with the company R-Biopharm AG in Darmstadt involving the development of a rapid test for the identification of celery allergens. Celery spice is a popular food ingredient and can, for example, be found in meat products, finished products and ketchup. “Celery is quite a potent food allergen and can lead to strong allergic reactions, but unfortunately it is difficult to identify with a rapid test,” Andrea explained. Although celery can be reliably identified in a laboratory with an ELISA test, a rapid test for direct application at production lines is not yet available. And it is something that food manufacturers would like to have. Rapid tests are available for other allergens and generate time- and cost savings for food manufacturers.

Establishing and validating quality management processes in the food industry

An interesting offer for clients from the food industry: microbiological analytics followed by consulting and support for the introduction of quality management systems. © Valérie Goovaerts

Over time, the company’s microbiology department has become the company’s “Food Production Quality Service” (FPQS). “Initially, we used to investigate food items using microbiological methods and our clients did not really know what to do with the results, which is when we started to offer consulting and related services,” recalled Andrea. In 2003, systems were introduced in the food industry for the management and control of food safety and quality, which is a key area of public health. Quality management systems include a number of routines that need to be followed to assess and guarantee the quality of food and improve it if necessary. When the retail industry started asking companies for quality management certificates, Andrea was asked by a company whether she could accompany them in a certification process.

Andrea then began looking for partners with whom she could discuss quality management issues. Quality management has since become a separate department in MicroMol. A team of 15, including full-time employees and freelance partners, focuses on the establishment, maintenance and testing of quality management systems in the food industry and related fields. The company’s FPQS is active in Europe, the USA and Canada. 

In addition to the aforementioned services, MicroMol GmbH also sells laboratory products such as protein markers, antibodies, reagents and control strains. Some of them are either sold under a proprietary brand name through an online shop, others are produced for companies such as Carl Roth and AppliChem. MicroMol’s product portfolio also includes BioReference control strains from the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France. “When we were dealing with relatively complicated pathogens we had difficulties finding control strains to suit our purposes,” said Andrea, who eventually contacted and established a sales partnership with the Institut Pasteur de Lille. Other MicroMol products have also resulted from projects the company has carried out: they were either discovered incidentally as part of ongoing projects or were specifically developed if existing products did not have the quality required. 

The fine art of life science

“We have a very intense and critical approach to all the issues we deal with,” said Andrea going on to add, “the life sciences offer many techniques and opportunities. But applying, using and combining them properly is an art requiring the sure instinct and sensitivity that make up what can be called “the fine art of life science”.

Further information:
MicroMol GmbH
Hedwigstr. 2-8
76199 Karlsruhe
Phone: +49 (0) 721/ 94 15 213

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/news/micromol-gmbh-and-the-fine-art-of-life-science