“All antibodies should be manufactured recombinantly – not just therapeutic antibodies”
Antibodies are outstanding tools for biomedical research and essential components of a myriad of diagnostic tests. They are also the largest and fastest growing source of new drugs. The vast majority of therapeutic antibodies are made using recombinant DNA technology, which has enabled the engineering of specific functions and the reduction or elimination of undesirable side-effects. However, protein engineering has largely been ignored during the development of antibodies for diagnostics and research, where most are still made by immunising goats or rabbits (“polyclonal” antibodies) or using hybridoma cells (“monoclonal” antibodies).
Absolute Antibody Ltd was founded in Oxford, UK, in August 2012, with the vision that all antibody users should be able to use recombinant antibodies, which are absolutely defined by their amino acid sequence. This view gained support in 2015 with a Comment in Nature magazine by Bradbury and Pluckthun (+110 co-signatories) – “Reproducibility: Standardize antibodies used in research“. Rather than creating entirely new antibodies (or antibody-like molecules), we are building a catalog by taking existing antibodies (often from hybridomas) then manufacturing them in a superior way and improving their usefulness by engineering. For more information, check out our introductory video.
The company achieves this through the use of proprietary vectors (pUV™), transient transfection of a high-yielding mammalian cell line (HEXpress™) and a universal purification platform. In this way 100s of mgs can be produced within two weeks and it allows Antibody Engineering, e.g. rapid reformatting or generation of unusual formats like Fc Silent™, bi-specific antibodies, recombinant Fab and Fab2 (AbFab2™) fragments.
Antibody sequencing, manufacturing and engineering services are offered to all antibody users and the ever-growing antibody catalog already includes 30 research-grade biosimilars, as well as recombinant versions of “classics” (e.g. anti-F4/80 [Cl:3A-1], anti-phosphotyrosine [PY20] and anti-c-myc [9E10]).
Why Use Recombinant Antibodies? Key advantages >>
Absolute Antibody Leadership
Dr Nicholas Hutchings, CEO
Nicholas is an entrepreneur with a background in immunology and proteomics, whose first startup Everest Biotech Ltd made 5000 traditional antibodies for the research market. He studied Biochemistry at the University of Oxford followed by a doctorate at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, supervised by Prof Neil Barclay.
Professor Neil Barclay, Chairman
Neil has been running a research group in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford for many years. His research centres on immunology and in particular the surfaces of white blood cells and how proteins at their surfaces interact and carry out their functions. He was heavily involved in the production of monoclonal antibodies from the 1980’s to current dates.
In the last 20 years many aspects of the research have involved the production of recombinant proteins. Thus he brings long term experience in both monoclonal antibodies and recombinant protein technology to AbAb – both essential technologies. On the commercial side he was a pioneer in getting his reagents available commercially and was an adviser to Serotec in its early days. He was a co-founder of Everest Biotech in 2000 which makes polyclonal antibodies for the research market. He is a cofounder and chairman of Absolute Antibody.
Dr Ian Wilkinson, Chief Scientific Officer
Ian has a scientific background firmly in the engineering and development of therapeutic antibodies. During a UCB-Celltech sponsored PhD at the University of Leicester, Ian solved the first NMR structure of a human antibody fragment (scFv). From there he moved to MedImmune, the biologics arm of AstraZeneca. He worked on a number of antibody and non-antibody early stage therapeutic research projects covering technology validation, drug discovery and optimization. Ian has been with Absolute Antibody since its founding and developed many of the processes that underpin the company’s recombinant antibody services. With a proven track-record of work on the structure-function relationship of various antibody formats, from full-length to scFv, Ian is eager to apply his expertise to even the most challenging antibody engineering projects.
Dr Catherine Bladen, Head of Research and Development
Catherine has more than 15 years’ experience in biochemistry research (specifically protein identification, purification and characterization) both in the UK and in the USA. She completed her PhD in 2001 in the Cancer Research Unit at Newcastle University, studying novel proteins involved in p53 independent cancer pathways. From there, Catherine spent 6 years at the Medical College of Georgia (USA) identifying proteins involved in double stranded DNA repair as a consequence of medical radiation exposure (radiotherapy). Catherine then spent 7 years at Leeds University researching the role of DNA repair and oxidative stress in Osteoarthritis. A further two years were then spent at Newcastle University leading a large, multi-national research project identifying mutations leading to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in an effort to understand how mutation status and clinical outcomes were connected.
Dr Michael Fiebig, Business Development Director
Michael studied Biochemistry before obtained his doctoral degree at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. With a background in both wet-lab and bioinformatic methods, Michael is always keen to explore new antibody licensing, product development and service opportunities to help customers and business partners harness the benefits of recombinant antibody technology. With in-depth knowledge of our products, Michael is the first point of call for our catalogue customers and distributors.
Professor Geoff Hale, Director
Geoff has researched monoclonal antibodies since 1980. He was part of the team that developed the first humanized antibody (Campath-1H) and worked for 25 years at the Universitites of Cambridge and Oxford to develop and manufacture antibodies for clinical trials. In 2002 Geoff founded BioAnaLab, a service laboratory specialising in the analysis of biologics. In 2009 the company was acquired by Millipore and Geoff continued as Chief Scientist until 2011.
Now he works as a freelance scientist, consultant and company director, with interests in the development of antibodies and antigens for research, diagnosis and therapy.
Tim Bernard, Director
Tim has over 30 years’ experience in the life science sector. He is an accomplished commercial leader and biotechnology consultant and has extensive experience of executive level leadership within the Antibody market. He has also been CEO of the antibody manufacturer Serotec (now part of Bio-Rad) which he grew from a £300k turnover to its eventual sale for £20m.
Tim has considerable experience in all aspects of business planning and sales and marketing and is the CEO of the private biotech consulting company Pivotal Scientific Ltd and co-founder of 2B Scientific Ltd supplying Immunological Reagents to the UK life science market. Tim is also founder and President of US custom antibody company Abcore LLC and sits on the Board of several UK companies, including Innova Biosciences Ltd, Everest Biotech Ltd and Chromocyte Ltd.
Stevan Hoyle, Director
Stevan has spent most his career in telecommunications and was a Director in the Vodafone Group between 1999 and 2016. He brings his considerable experience of working in the Americas, Asia and Africa to help Absolute Antibody with its continued international growth.
Stevan is also chair of an international recruitment company and board advisor to biotechnology consultancy Pivotal Scientific Ltd.
Dr Mike Clark, Scientific Advisor
Mike is a biochemist and immunologist with 35 years of experience of working with antibodies. He studied for his PhD on “Antibodies in Somatic Cell Hybrids” under the supervision of the pioneer of monoclonal antibodies César Milstein, and subsequently joined Herman Waldmann’s research team to work on therapeutic antibodies for use in immunosuppression and organ transplantation. He was one of the co-inventers of the first humanized recombinant therapeutic antibody alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) and also worked on the project to make an Fc modified anti-CD3 antibody, otelixizumab. Mike was appointed to a personal Readership in Therapeutic and Molecular Immunology at Cambridge University in 2007 and in recent years his research has focused on selection and modification of antibody Fc regions for particular therapeutic applications. In 2009 he established an antibody consultancy company Clark Antibodies Ltd.
His many antibody patents and inventions have been widely licensed and adopted by the biotechnology sector and he also acts as a consultant and member of the scientific advisory boards for several biotechnology companies.
Professor Stephen Cobbold, Scientific Advisor
Steve Cobbold is Professor of Cellular Immunology at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, where he continues to investigate how monoclonal antibodies can be used to therapeutically manipulate the immune system. He studied Biochemistry in Oxford, followed by a Ph.D. in Cambridge, which led to the first demonstrations of tolerance induction to proteins and then organ grafts using CD4 monoclonal antibodies in adult rodents. As part of the Waldmann group, he was also actively involved in the development of CAMPATH monoclonal antibodies, which are now used for the treatment of certain leukemias and for multiple sclerosis. He also developed statistical methods for the analysis of antibody clusters as used in the 3rd Human CD Antigen Workshop (1987) and in 1993 he organized the first Canine Leukocyte Antigen Workshop (CLAW).
He was a scientific co-founder of TolerRx Inc., and together with Geoff Hale and Peppy Rebello, he co-founded BioAnaLab Ltd., a company that performs contract research and diagnostic testing for the biopharmaceutical industry, which was successfully sold to Merck/Millipore in 2009. He has published more than 250 articles and patents on the therapeutic applications of monoclonal antibodies and the mechanisms of transplantation tolerance.
Professor Herman Waldmann, Scientific Advisor
Herman Waldmann is Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Oxford, and in the period 1994-2013 was Head of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford. An immunologist, he is best known for his work on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, particularly Campath-1 ( alemtuzumab) developed for lymphocyte depletion, and used for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple sclerosis in particular.
Since 1980 he has been funded by the UK Medical Research Council and European Research Council to study mechanisms of tolerance and therapeutic strategies to achieve this both experimentally and clinically. In 1985 he published the first studies to show that short courses of CD4 antibody therapy could bring about long-term immunological tolerance in rodents to foreign proteins, and this work led to the first demonstrations of transplantation tolerance resulting from short-tem antibody blockade.
In order to apply antibodies clinically Waldmann developed the first academic therapeutic antibody manufacturing facility. He and his team were able to apply clinical-grade antibodies in a wide range of probing therapeutic studies that enabled them to develop a series of humanized antibodies (CD52, CD3, CD4 and others) which have since been transferred to the pharmceutical industry.