Global alliance chooses Horizon Discovery cell line for Zika antibody

Batavia Biosciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and IDBiologics will use the cell line expression system to produce and antibody for the potent virus

Batavia Biosciences has announced that the company has signed a licence agreement to utilise Horizon Discovery’s GS knockout CHO K1 cell line expression system for the development of high yield antibody-expressing cell lines. Initially, Batavia will deploy the system for production of a potent Zika virus neutralising antibody, working in collaboration with US-based organisations; Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and IDBiologics.

“We’re excited to work with Batavia to move this promising Zika antibody therapy one step closer to the clinic,” said James Crowe Jr, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center.

“Developing high yield antibody producer CHO lines is difficult and expensive,” added Robert Carnahan, Director of Vanderbilt Antibody and Protein Resource. “That is why this new solution is so important to the anti-Zika antibody project.”

Developing high yield antibody producer CHO lines is difficult and expensive

Menzo Havenga, CEO, Batavia Biosciences, explained: “We are thrilled to now have access to Horizon’s expression system to complement our existing STEP® technology for recombinant protein production and to have VUMC and IDBiologics as collaborators on the development of a much needed Zika virus medical countermeasure.”

Chuck Haines, CEO of IDBiologics, said: “We are looking forward with great anticipation to receiving the Zika virus antibody cell line from the VUMC-Batavia collaboration and continuing to advance this product to the clinic.”

Horizon licenses its CHO expression system to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and biosimilar companies, as well as CMOs. The system includes the GS knockout CHO K1 cell line, a comprehensive package of supporting documentation, and an expression vector supplied under license from DNATwoPointO, Inc.

Dirk Gewert, Business Unit Director of Horizon Discovery explained: “This proprietary solution has now been featured in a number of confirmed Investigational New Drug (IND) filings. This solution allows companies to move from the DNA sequence of their potential biotherapeutic to clinical manufacturing as simply and rapidly as possible. Both Horizon and Batavia are dedicated to ensuring the availability of key technologies that can improve the affordability of medicines worldwide.”

The Zika antibody

The Zika virus neutralising antibody was discovered three years ago by VUMC researchers in collaboration with colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. The group reported isolation of a human monoclonal antibody that in a mouse model “markedly reduced” infection by the Zika virus.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus is believed to cause microcephaly (unusually small heads) and other congenital malformations in children born to infected women. Currently, there is no way to prevent Zika virus infection or its aftermath.

The VUMC antibody, dubbed ZIKV-117, binds to an epitope or “part of” the Zika virus in a way that no other antibody has to date.

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