Pfizer invests in mAb discovery with Berkeley Lights’ Beacon tech

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/media point inc
GettyImages/media point inc

Related tags Immune system Protein

Pfizer has selected Berkeley Lights’ workflow platform to advance its monoclonal antibody discovery and gene editing programmes.

The research collaboration and license agreement will see Pfizer install Berkeley Lights’ Beacon Optofluidic technology, which uses a light-based, nano-fluidic method to select, characterise, culture and export single cells.

“Cell characterisations are performed through a variety of serial or multiplex fluorescence assays to determine antigen specific binding to membrane bound targets on live cells, relative affinity, and functional response with reporter cells,” ​said Berkeley Lights.

Individual cells with the desired characteristics will then be selected and exported for Pfizer’s gene editing programmes and B-cell screening.

According to Berkeley Lights, the Beacon can screen thousands of plasma B-cells – white blood cells that secrete antibodies – or gene edited cells in just a few days.

“Because monoclonal antibody discovery​ [mAb] and gene editing workflows are still manually done, it can be a laborious and slow process,” ​Berkeley Lights’ Keith Breinlinger told us.

“But applying our Beacon platform to automate the process of screening and characterising individual cells significantly speeds up the process enabling scientists to more precisely screen thousands of antibody producing cells or gene edited cells in just a few days,” ​he added.

A spokesperson did not disclose which facility Pfizer would house the Beacon.

Last month, Teva Pharmaceuticals Australia – a wholly owned subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – announced​ it had selected Berkeley Light’s Beacon workflow platform to develop therapeutic antibodies at its R&D site in New South Wales.

In September, 2017 Berkeley Lights announced​ it would install the Beacon in Bayer’s research facility in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, for the pharmaceutical firm’s cell line development and antibody discovery programmes.

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