2018: A Year of Expansion

Nicholas Hutchings, founder and CEO of Absolute Antibody, reflects on the milestones reached in 2018 as the company enters its seventh year of business.


“It’s been one hell of a year. For me, with frequent trips across the Atlantic and up to the North East of England, it feels like I’ve barely been home! For Absolute Antibody, great busy-ness meant great business, and expansion in all of its forms.”

Expanding Globally

We kicked off 2018 by expanding into North America with a successful merger between Absolute Antibody Ltd and Kerafast Inc. Kerafast’s mission is to make rare research reagents easily accessible across the life sciences, which matches Absolute Antibody’s founding principle to make engineered antibodies available for all. The merger gave us access to a new lab space in the biotech hub of Boston, MA, as well as a great team with experience in licensing unique reagents and making them accessible to scientists worldwide. Antibodies from Kerafast’s extensive catalog have already started appearing as recombinant versions produced by Absolute Antibody, such as the anti-DNA-RNA hybrid antibody S9.6.

Expanding Online

Over the summer, we improved our online presence with a major website overhaul and upgrade. Our constantly-updating catalog proved challenging to accommodate – enough to be featured as a WooCommerce developer case study! I’m happy to say that we succeeded and that the website is now faster, more secure, and with improved functionality. Elsewhere in the digital sphere, we launched a quarterly e-newsletter, ‘Antibody Engineering News’, headed up by our CSO Ian Wilkinson. Here we share news, interesting research, opinions and exclusive deals every quarter – be sure to sign up.

Expanding Capacity

The summer also saw us more than double the laboratory space at our manufacturing site in Redcar, UK. The upgrade includes dedicated labs for molecular biology, automation, tissue culture and purification, as well as expanded shipping and storage areas. We’ve also added two new custom-built purification robots. In 2018 we produced over 2000 different antibodies, making almost 100 grams of protein in total. This is on top of over 660 hybridomas sequenced, and 25 successful antibody humanization projects over the year. We’ll be adding more people (and robots) to the team throughout 2019.

Some photos of the team in our new lab space.

Expanding Our Product Offering

Despite it being a hectic year, we made sure to continue adding new products and services to our portfolio. Aided by our new team in Boston, the catalog has grown to more than  3800 products, up from 2300 in 2017. In the spring we made murine bispecifics available within our catalog in a world-first for the reagents market. Of course we also spared some innovation for our custom services,  pioneering a polyclonal sequencing service in partnership with Digital Proteomics whilst also making significant advances to our transient expression platform in HEK293 cells… and CHO cells too. Watch this space for many developments to come!

Expanding Awareness

As a company, we also aim to educate researchers across the life sciences and promote the benefits of antibody engineering. That’s why we host a free online antibody resource, attend conferences worldwide to exhibit and speak, and engage with industry reporters (see a June Biocompare article on recombinant antibodies featuring our CSO Ian.). In March, we co-authored a paper which showed that over 30% of ‘monoclonal’ antibodies are not monospecific, another argument for why all antibodies should be made recombinantly.  It was also great to see antibody-related technologies acknowledged twice in the 2018 Nobel Prizes – the prize for chemistry was awarded for the phage display of peptides and antibodies and the prize for medicine for harnessing the immune system to treat cancer. It’s an exciting time to be an antibody engineer.

Thank you for reading.

And thank you to the fantastic team here at Absolute Antibody – I am very proud of the progress that we’ve made this year. My founding goal of providing engineered antibodies for all is in our sights! The company is going from strength to strength as we head into 2019, and I can’t wait to find out what goes into my next update.

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