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20 April, 2020 - 14:31 By Tony Quested

‘Rivals’ join forces to fast-track antibodies to combat virus

FairJourney Biologics in Portugal and Cambridge UK life science business Iontas have joined forces to expedite the identification of effective antibodies for a therapeutic to treat COVID-19 patients.

As COVID-19 continues to impact individuals and societies across the globe, this partnership has been formed in the spirit of bringing together the world’s leading scientific expertise, technologies and laboratory facilities for a single common human goal.

The combination of FairJourney’s premier global technical expertise and extensive immune antibody libraries with Iontas’ next generation Mammalian Display technology will also see leading scientists from both companies join forces in the race to identify antibodies to be used in the development of safe and effective treatments.

The collaboration, between parties that would normally be considered competitors, will take advantage of FairJourney’s deep expertise in Phage Display antibody libraries from immune repertoires and Iontas’ premium, next-generation Mammalian Display technology. 

RNA from recovering patients, provided by Portugal’s Instituto de Medicina Molecular, will be a key source of antibody genes used for the identification of target antibodies.

This combination will enable the newly created partnership to isolate highly specific, neutralising SARS-CoV-2 antibodies displaying high affinity and preferential biophysical characteristics. 

The technology package will facilitate the identification of the right antibody without the need for additional optimisation, thereby reducing the risk of delays during development and subsequent scale up to manufacturing.

Maria Pajuelo, chief scientific officer of FairJourney, said: “Given the current pandemic and our expertise in exploring the 1,400+ immune libraries built at FairJourney we felt compelled to engage in an antibody-based intervention for COVID-19. 

“In this challenging environment we are proud to come together with John McCafferty and his team to combine our individual strengths for a common goal.”

McCafferty, CEO of Iontas added: “Collectively, we felt it important to apply the best platforms in identifying treatments against COVID-19. We believe by using a broad repertoire of antibody libraries and mammalian display, we can find therapeutic candidates that will progress through manufacturing and ultimately into patients in a speedy timeframe.”

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