Combinatorial antibody libraries allow human antibodies to be identified directly by searching among billions of antibody variants taken from human blood samples to find those that bind to a particular target—such as BLyS—involved in a particular disease.
In this technique, the scientists hijack the inner workings of phages (viruses that attack bacteria). By inserting genetic sequences encoding active portions of antibodies, the researchers are able to make phages displaying on their surfaces the antibody of interest. These antibody-displaying phage particles can then be tested en masse for their ability to bind to molecules of interest. Successful binders can then be purified and identified as a target for additional research.
With the British Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Scripps Research licensed the inventions to Cambridge Antibody Technology (now part of AstraZeneca) to facilitate exploitation of the technology for creation of new medicines. In 1999, Cambridge Antibody Technology partnered with Human Genome Sciences, which entered into a co-development and commercialization agreement with GlaxoSmithKline in 2006.
While much technology has changed over the decades, variations of combinatorial antibody libraries are still a mainstay of drug discovery research. Commercialized throughout the 1990s, the promise of this method is now beginning to be realized—today with Benlysta®, tomorrow, Lerner predicts, with other life-saving drugs.
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|SOURCE The Scripps Research Institute|
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