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Allele Sponsors SABPA Event at UCSD on March 23rd
Tuesday, 04.02.2013, 09:35am (GMT-7)

On March 23rd, 2013, SABPA held its eleventh Science & Technology forum. The forum attracted more than 370 registered attendees locally and internationally, which is a new record for the Science & Technology forum. This forum offers great opportunities to increase awareness of new technologies in developing novel biologic therapeutics and current trends on biologics discovery and development in academia and the pharma/biotech industry.


The morning session began with a talk by Dr. Peter Schultz, professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research Institute, and director of the newly founded California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr). Dr. Schultz introduced his lab's endeavor in expanding genetic codes for amino acids to introduce unnatural amino acids into proteins. They generated unique genetic codons coupled with tRNAs that recognize these codons and corresponding aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases that can attach unique amino acids to the tRNAs. Dr. Schultz showed that this methodology could efficiently incorporate a variety of artificial amino acids into proteins to generate proteins with desired functionalities. These artificially designed amino acids can serve special purposes such as NMR probes, fluorophores, amino acids with special chemical properties and post-translational modifications. He gave numerous examples on how these genetically coded unnatural amino acids could improve antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) efficiency, accelerate vaccine design, enable the generation of a whole new class of antibodies with genetically encoded warheads etc. Dr. Schultz believes that expanding the genetic code can allow invention of new therapeutics and new tools for biology.


Dr. Thomas Bumol, vice president of Biotechnology and Autoimmunity, Lilly Research Labs, Lilly Biotechnology Center in San Diego, followed up Dr. Schultz's talk by first highlighting the significance of biologics to the pharmaceutical industry. In 2012, for the first time, the top selling drug in the world is a biologics drug (Humira). In addition, 4 of the top 5 selling drugs are biologics. Dr. Bumol then introduced Lilly's strategic shift to transform from a traditional pharmaceutical company focusing on small molecule drugs to a biopharmaceutical company with biological therapies representing half of the clinical pipelines. He believes that a lot of opportunities exist for protein-based therapeutics. Dr. Bumol further illustrated Lilly's protein engineering platform. By exchanging any amino acid with variable amino acids throughout a protein sequence, Lilly is able to generate biologic therapeutics with improved efficacy, safety, drug-like profile and convenient delivery. Dr. Bumol gave an example of Ixekizumab, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) against IL-17A developed by Lilly. It has shown great promise in treating Psoriasis patients. Lilly is determined to build world-class discovery, engineering and development capabilities for therapeutic mAbs.


The third speaker, Dr. David King, CSO of AnaptysBio, Inc, presented an innovative way of "Generating Improved Antibody Therapeutics through Somatic Hypermutation (SHM)

in vitro". SHM is a natural mechanism used by the human immune system, specifically B cells, to generate almost limitless antibodies against a variety of infectious agents using a limited set of genes within our genomes. AnaptysBio is the first company to successfully replicate SHM in vitro and develop the SHM-XEL™ platform

by combining SHM with a mammalian antibody display system and FACS based sorting system. This technology can be used to improve existing antibodies, discover novel antibodies, perform antibody humanization, and generate antibodies with multiple antigen specificity. Dr. King then gave examples highlighting the power of the SHM-XEL

™ platform. ANB004 is a highly potent human antibody discovered and optimized using AnaptysBio's SHM-XEL™ technology. Pre-clinical studies demonstrate that ANB004 effectively neutralizes IL-17A. With excellent biophysical properties, ANB004 will be a strong competitor against other IL-17A antagonists, such as Ixekizumab from Lilly. 


Jeremy Barton, vice president of Biotherapeutics Development at Pfizer gave his perspective on the progress of Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs). Dr. Barton described the technology of ADCs, which harness the targeting power of antibodies with the great efficacy of cytotoxics. In substantial details, he reviewed the history of ADC development, described the current status and the active research areas of ADC development in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Barton noted that ADCs have shown great promise with the success of ADCETRIS® against relapsed refractory Hodgkins Disease and trastuzumab DM1 for metastatic breast cancer. However, the success of these two drugs may not be representative of ADC as a whole class. The off-target toxicity of ADCs remains a big concern. Choose the best combination of site-specific conjugation/linker/payload in ADC design and the use of companion diagnostics will be essential to maximize ADC success.


The next speaker is Dr. Henry Ji, CEO and president of Sorrento Therapeutics. He introduced the core technology platforms of the company: the G-MAB library platform and the antibody formulated drug conjugate (AfDC). The G-MAB library has the industry leading antibody diversity. The AfDC technology allows the conjugation of a formulated drug to any antibody. The formulation can include multiple drugs in the capsule. He also introduced Cynviloq, a nanoparticle durg paclitaxel formulation. It has shown great promise in solubilizing paclitaxel.


The following panel discussion is lead by Steve Prestrlski, CEO of Xeris Pharmaceutics, with active discussion from panelists representing a diverse field, including Bhawanjit Brar, senior director of Zensun, Jeremy Barton from Pfizer, Brenden Gingrich, Partner from Knobble Martens, Jean Liu, VP from Halozyme Therapeutics, and Tim Tian, Senior Scientist from Laureate BioPharma. The moderator opened the discussion with a comment that biologics development is highly risky due to high cost, long developmental cycle, heavy regulation and increasing international division of labor. He then asked the panelists to discuss how to manage various major risks in biologics development and production. Dr. Gingrich discussed how to manage intellectual property risk from early drug development to late stage marketing. While Dr. Brar, a scientist trained in both UK and US, working in a Chinese drug company and research product for US market, talked about some of her experience on risk management in meeting cGMP standards by manufactures in Australia and China. Other panelists also contributed to the discussion from their unique perspective.


In the afternoon, several SABPA sponsors including MEIRxRS, Laureate BioPharma Inc., and Effinity Tech, Inc. hosted showcase presentations to targeted audience.


SABPA would like to thank all the speakers, sponsors and volunteers who made this event an outstanding success.


SABPA would also like to thank our media partners who reported the Science & Technology Forum in Chinese.

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UCSD Vendor Show on Friday, June 15th, Medical School lawn
Going on now--Allele Biotech showing feeder-free, xeno-free, footprint-free human iPSCs at the Scripps annual vendor show
Allele presented the grant prize last Friday's Sanford-Burnham event