The automated discovery process, named Technology Platform Access, can select and evaluate the antibodies that can be used in biotherapies, said the Brussels-based biopharmaceutical company.
Andy Popplewell, Director, antibody discovery and engineering, told Biopharma-Reporter.com UCB aims to halve antibody discovery time with the robot, as well as increase capacity and improve the quality and consistency of its antibodies.
The platform opened last month in Slough, UK after installation in December 2013 as part of a $5.5m (€4m) laboratory investment. It will be available for collaborative projects and for in-house research.
‘A billion to one’
The platform screens B lymphocytes – the cells that produce antibodies – to find the rare ones that produce the right antibodies for use in biopharmaceuticals.
“We will screen over a billion B cells to find that one cell that produce antibodies of sufficient quality for development into therapeutics,” said Popplewell.
“It’s very efficient – the platform essentially mines out an entire immune repertoire.”
Technology Platform Access joins together three robots: a work cell which sets up cultures, a screening cell, and a “hit-picking” cell which selects the successful B lymphocytes. Two to three scientists working on terminals outside the encased robot feed in cell cultures and set parameters for experiments, said Popplewell.
UCB is looking for partnerships for the platform among researchers developing novel antibiotics, said UCB’s Director. “We’re targeting academics predominantly and we’re also open to small and medium enterprises.”
Earlier this year UCB told Biopharma-Reporter.com it is collaborating with Sanofi on a project to replace some anti-inflammatory biologics with small molecule alternatives.