Discovering Better Antibodies and Vaccines

Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center

Research in the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center (PBC) focuses on human health by developing and manufacturing patient-derived therapeutic antibodies and vaccines.

One of the IBRI’s most promising opportunities is the identification of novel antibody therapeutics directly from patients. Many diseases are influenced by the immune system, some very dramatically, including infectious diseases and many cancers. In these cases, a strong immune response can drive disease remission and lead to a potential cure.

Despite the well-recognized influence of the immune system on disease outcomes, there are still many details of immunology that are poorly understood. Chief among them is the reason why some people are better at warding off a particular disease than others. What is it about their immune system that allows them to survive, and even completely recover?

A unique platform for patient-derived antibody discovery

With the establishment of the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center (PBC), the IBRI is developing a unique platform in patient-derived antibody discovery that can investigate these questions directly by considering how patients are able to overcome disease, learning from these examples to develop treatments that can help others.

The key technology platforms and capabilities of this new center include protein engineering and production, candidate validation and process automation.

Antibody discovery platform benefits

The deep-screening capacity of a patient-centric antibody discovery platform has applications in the development of therapeutic antibodies against traditional targets, but it also leverages the screening power to identify rare antibodies. Benefits include:

  • The ability to identify specific functions, such as turning particular cellular activities on or off.
  • The ability to increase antibody diversity, which simplifies downstream therapeutic antibody development.

PBC team and labs take shape

To get the PBC established, Center Director, Dr. Vidadi Yusibov, along with Research Fellows Dr. Victor Wroblewski and Dr. Steven Haney, hired staff scientists and research assistants in 2018,, with additional hiring underway.

The PBC laboratories are currently being equipped and outfitted with completion anticipated in early 2019, allowing research activities to ramp-up between January and April 2019. As these activities gain momentum, the center will increase its visibility and outreach to partners in Indiana and beyond.

This initial phase starts a five-year plan for the PBC to set strategic priorities that follow antibody discovery with integrated capabilities for preclinical assessment and clinical lead development in collaboration with academic researchers and industrial customers.

This capacity is facilitated by the significant experience of the leadership team in the development of biotherapeutics and addresses a gap in the development efforts of academic centers and research hospitals.

Complementing IBRI research

To complement and support the IBRI’s other research areas, the PBC will also focus on the development of new therapies for diabetes and other cardio-metabolic diseases while retaining the flexibility to capture opportunistic approaches in other diseases when funding is available.

Partha Banerjee
Partha Banerjee, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist Partha Banerjee, Ph.D., labels peripheral blood mononuclear cells to isolate antigen-specific B cells. Single B cell technologies are being developed in the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center (PBC) to scan the repertoire of antibody diversity produced in donor humans and animals.

This approach allows identification of antibodies having unique properties, which can result in the development of novel therapeutics for various disease states.

An economic engine for therapeutic discovery 

The PBC aspires to become an economic engine facilitating the development of new therapeutics by spinning-off startup companies in this field or by licensing technologies to established companies. 

The PBC will meet a critical need in this research area by leveraging a network of new and existing partnerships covering the life sciences value chain to deliver new therapeutic antibodies and vaccines that improve patient outcomes.

PBC researchers

Left: Vidadi Yusibov, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Director, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Center: Steven Haney, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center
Right: Victor Wroblewski, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Center

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