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Carterra to Provide Antibody Screening and Characterization for the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC)

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Carterra® Inc., specialists in high-throughput antibody screening and characterization tools, and La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) have announced that they will use Carterra’s proprietary LSA™ platform to screen hundreds of antibodies in just a few days, allowing CoVIC to move therapeutic candidates to the clinic as early as this summer.

La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) has been awarded a $1.73 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC) as part of the foundation’s global efforts to stem the tide of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Institute announced yesterday.  Antibody therapies are often the first novel therapies advanced for an emerging infectious disease.

Headquartered at LJI, CoVIC will serve as a clearinghouse to understand which antibodies are most effective against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and to accelerate the research pipeline to provide immunotherapeutics in order to protect vulnerable individuals from severe manifestations of COVID-19 in all parts of the world, including low-resource settings.

This effort is being funded as part of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator launched in early March by the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard. The Accelerator provides fast and flexible funding at key stages of the development process to de-risk the pathway for drugs and biologics to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The effort is led by Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., a professor in LJI’s Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research, who draws on her broad research experience guiding the development of antibody drugs and galvanizing a global research coalition that helped define which therapeutic antibodies effectively combat disease in humans infected with Ebola virus.

“We are thrilled that Carterra will provide full antibody characterization data using affinity measurements and, potentially more importantly, ultra-high resolution information of the epitopes,” says Dr. Ollmann Saphire. “Knowing how well these antibodies bind to the target is important but understanding their mechanism of action and how different antibodies can complement each other will determine what ends up in the clinic.”

Traditional antibody discovery requires a primary screen of ever-expanding antibody libraries. Only a small group of candidate antibodies are then characterized on traditional, low-throughput, low-resolution biosensor tools which provide real-time readout of the binding profile. This workflow runs the risk that potential drug candidates could be missed or that the process of candidate selection could be exceedingly long.

Carterra’s LSA is turning that model on its head by enabling the high-resolution analysis of entire libraries, combining screening and characterization into one seamless step, thereby minimizing the risk of missing a potent therapeutic candidate. The LSA’s dramatic throughput condenses months of work into days. Infectious diseases are ideal for leveraging the power of the LSA platform as evidenced in recent studies of Yellow Fever and Ebola where the LSA helped elucidate the immunity of survivors.

Additionally, the LSA platform offers investigators the most resolved view of the epitope – the location an antibody binds to its target. An epitope is an innate property that cannot be changed and must be discovered empirically. The LSA is the only technology that enables characterization of epitope binding at the full library level.

“The world is in need of a solution to COVID-19,” says Josh Eckman, Carterra’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re honored to be the provider of high-throughput antibody screening and characterization data to CoVIC. They have the most ambitious research goals and aggressive timelines. The Carterra LSA is the right tool at the right time.”