LONDON ¿ The drug discovery company Isogenica Ltd. licensed its in vitro display library technology to Affitech A/S for the rapid generation of human antibodies as therapeutics and diagnostics.

Simon Kerry, commercial director of Cambridge-based Isogenica, told BioWorld International, ¿The deal is important for two reasons. It involves an up-front payment, milestones and royalties, commensurate with similar deals in the industry. But it also adds a huge amount of value to our covalent display technology [CDT]. It will increase our skills in large proteins and expand our knowledge very rapidly of what the system is capable of.¿

CDT is based on molecular evolution techniques, in which molecules are all thrown against the target simultaneously, rather than screening each molecule individually. The library consists of polypeptides covalently linked to the DNA that encodes for them. After washing off nonbinding molecules, the ones that stick can be amplified using conventional PCR.

Because CDT operates in vitro it is much faster than in vivo screening systems that rely on bacterial transformation. Isogenica said it can rapidly generate high-affinity, high-specificity binding molecules to any given drug target.

¿We can make large libraries in the 1012 range in two hours; every client could potentially have a different library,¿ Kerry said. ¿At the moment, we are working with peptides of 70 to 80 amino acids; working with Affitech on human antibodies will increase our knowledge of how the system works with larger proteins.¿

Affitech, of Oslo, Norway, plans to use CDT with its own proprietary antibody library technology to generate high-affinity human antibodies. The deal gives Affitech exclusive rights to any products.

¿Being a fully in vitro technology, CDT is extremely well suited for automation and the high throughput required in applications areas such as functional genomics, proteomics and drug discovery,¿ said Ole Marvik, CEO of Affitech.

Isogenica was formed in May with US$3 million funding, to develop technology originally developed at the University of Oslo. It was being commercialized by Active Biotech AB, of Lund, Sweden, but following a restructuring there was sold to the development team. As team members are British, they decided to establish Isogenica in the UK.