This article was originally published in Start Up
Methods for discovering and developing therapeutic antibodies are evolving along with clinical and commercial expectations and practices; at the cutting edge of a mature field, new players strive to improve upon existing therapeutic antibodies. Profiles of GamaMabs, Numab, and Zebra Biologics.
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Zebra Biologics Inc. has a new way of creating antibodies that allows huge numbers of candidates to be quickly identified through a functional assay, using lentivirus to transfect an autocrine human cell line specially engineered to change color if anything (presumably the encoded fragment) activates a given receptor.
Swiss start-up Numab AG’s discovery platform includes a method of generating diverse antibodies by immunizing rabbits. Antibodies produced in this species are widely used for diagnostic purposes, and appreciated for their “high affinity,” but few companies have ever pursued rabbits as a source of therapeutic antibodies, largely because they have been difficult to isolate; Numab appears to have figured out an elegant way to do so.
GamaMabs Pharma SA is one of the latest contenders aiming to boost the biological activity of antibodies by altering their attached sugar groups. The company, located in Toulouse, France, was founded in June 2013 to develop therapeutic antibody treatments for gynecologic cancers, using core technologies licensed from the French Laboratories for Biotechnologies.