World-renowned experts in the fields of antibody engineering, immunoinformatics and drug selection and services Matthew Baker Ph.D., Professor Terry Rabbitts, and Professor Charlotte Deane to join Fusion Antibodies plc Scientific Advisory Panel

Fusion Antibodies plc (“Fusion”), specialists in pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and supply for both therapeutic drug and diagnostic applications, announces the formation of a new Scientific Advisory Panel (the “SAP”) of leading experts to support the Company’s research and development across its range of antibody services, and to provide advice regarding emerging science and technology issues and trends.

This eminent group of leading experts and thought leaders will play a key role in helping to shape the Company’s services and commercial roadmap, strategy and R&D activities.

The first additions to the panel are:  Matthew Baker Ph.D., Professor Terry Rabbitts and Professor Charlotte Deane.

Matthew Baker, PhD has more than 20 years’ experience developing biologics in biotech and pharma companies and is a research expert in B- and T-cell immunology, including drug immunogenicity. He was the Chief Scientific Officer of Abzena until 2016 and previously held a Non-Executive Director role at Oxgene. He is currently the CEO of NeoPhore, a private company focused on the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapies to treat cancer through stimulation of the immune system. Matthew brings detailed immunology and virus-based mammalian display knowledge to the SAP as well as industry and market insight.

Professor Terry Rabbitts is a Professor of Immunology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London (UK), where he focuses on developing technologies using intracellular antibody fragments and small molecule derivatives, mainly aimed at targeting chromosomal translocation protein products. Terry is the ex-Chair of Cambridge Antibody Technology’s Scientific Advisory Board, holding this position from launch until its IPO on the London Stock Exchange and is currently an advisor to several start-up biotech companies. He is also co-founder of both Orbit Discovery and Quadrucept Bio Ltd.

Professor Charlotte Deane is a Professor of Structural Bioinformatics at the University of Oxford. Her research in the Oxford Protein Informatics Group covers several areas in protein structure and interaction networks, combining both theoretical and empirical analysis. Her detailed expertise means she will bring structural modelling, bioinformatics and library design experience to the SAP, as well as an insight key to the development of future machine learning algorithms.

It is truly an honour to announce these distinguished and prominent experts as new members of Fusion’s Scientific Advisory Panel,” said Richard Jones Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Fusion Antibodies. “The appointment of these three industry experts adds a depth of expertise to our newly created SAP who will provide Fusion with relevant and informed technical and scientific counsel and broadens our access to a network of clinical and scientific advisors, as well as academic collaborators. Each member brings unique qualities to Fusion, and we are looking forward to drawing on their individual experiences as we continue our research and development programs and pipeline. We are delighted to welcome them to the team.”

The establishment of this prominent SAP truly underlines Fusion’s commitment to driving pioneering scientific and technical innovation, responding to the evolving needs of it’s clients through sustained investment in R&D programs, platforms and pipeline.

 

Fusion Antibodies have today announced an update to its research and development catalogue following on from the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529 (“Omicron”). The data on Omicron was added to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (“GISAID”) archive on 22 November 2021. GISAID is an existing platform for sharing influenza virus sequences and primary information.

In response to the World Health Organisation (WHO) designating Omicron as a “Variant of Concern”, Fusion is developing receptor-binding domain (“RBD”) antigens as part of the Northern Ireland Coronavirus Antibody Development Alliance (NICADA). The Company has decided to include Omicron RBD, alongside the alpha, beta, gamma and delta+ RBD variants, in its development programme with the aim of producing virus-neutralising antibodies. Whilst there can be no guarantee as to the outcome of the inclusion of Omicron in the development programme, if successful, these state-of-the-art antibodies would have affinity to the Omicron RBD and therefore potential neutralisation ability, while also aiding diagnostic testing efforts.

Dr Richard Buick, Chief Scientific Officer at Fusion Antibodies said:

“We have decided to try to progress this opportunity given the appearance of the Omicron variant, although we must stress that this is in the very early stages of conception, and we do not have any guarantees in terms of effectiveness or durability. Omicron has many mutations in the RBD region of the spike protein, and these mutations could help the
virus evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible.

“However, by leveraging our experience in developing antibodies against the previous SARS-CoV-2 variants, we would hope that the development of an Omicron RBD-binding antibody could potentially be much accelerated in comparison to previous variants. We are conscious that the fight against COVID-19 is a worldwide effort and as such we are happy to announce our decision to make these proteins available for research and development purposes.”

Fusion Antibodies, pre-clinical antibody discovery and development experts is pleased to announce that it has secured an important new contract with a US based biotechnology company.

This is the second collaboration announcement in less than two months for Fusion Antibodies, which will see the Belfast based CRO receive a minimum of US$1.83 million of fees over the next two years.

This collaborative research and development agreement reinforces Fusion Antibodies’ position as one of the leading providers of early-stage antibody discovery and engineering services and is testament to its rapidly growing service offerings.

Dr Richard Jones, CEO of Fusion Antibodies commented:

“We are delighted to have agreed this important new contract with a key player in the biotech industry. The Agreement has very significant minimum contract value of US$1.83 million.

“Furthermore, we are especially pleased that the project will take place using our RAMPTM platform, highlighting that this technology continues to gain traction in the marketplace.”

Dr Julie Gormley, Senior Commercial Director said:

“This contract is also a further demonstration of Fusion Antibodies expertise and capabilities. Through the utilisation of our own proprietary RAMPTM platform we are offering our client the opportunity to drive the discovery of novel therapeutic antibodies against tough targets, where traditional discovery efforts have previously failed.

“We are thrilled to be working with a team of impassioned scientists to provide essential solutions in relation to the research and development of several pre-determined projects and as we continue to grow and invest in our technologies and team we hope to provide such support to many more clients across the globe as our industry evolves over the next 10 to 20 years.”

James Fair, Chief Financial Officer also commented:

“Under our new CEO, Dr Richard Jones, Fusion Antibodies approach is to grow the business with a strong focus on using the organisation’s strong track record.  By showcasing the knowledge and expertise of our exceptional staff, along with our first-rate proprietary platforms, we are in a prime position to continue to win large, long-term contracts such as the one we have announced today. We look forward to delivering on the contract and continuing to collaborate with other such organisations.”

Fusion Antibodies and Eurofins Discovery sign co-marketing agreement to support timely and cost-effective development of innovative products for the benefit of global healthcare

Fusion Antibodies are delighted to announce that is has entered into a commercial collaboration with Eurofins, a Eurofins Scientific SE group company; a leading provider of products and services to the drug discovery industry.

As leading global innovation-driven and customer-focused providers of antibody development services, Fusion Antibodies and Eurofins share common values in the culture of collaboration and the pursuit of scientific excellence and together, they aim to provide laboratories worldwide with high-quality, cost-effective and efficient services that work seamlessly with one another to support biotherapeutic discovery.

Under the agreement, Fusion Antibodies will provide comprehensive pre-clinical antibody development services from discovery, engineering, and critical reagent supply to Eurofins so that together they can provide a complete workflow solution for busy researchers. This includes Fusion Antibodies services for antibody generation, characterization, sequencing, engineering and expression, and Eurofins Discovery’s in vivo and in vitro services, such as efficacy models, bioanalytical services, biomarker development, phenotypic assays and safety assessment.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Richard Jones, CEO of Fusion Antibodies, said:

“We are delighted to enter into this commercial collaboration with Eurofins which leverages the respective expertise of both partners, delivering on both our strategic objectives as well as providing a full client service package.

Eurofins are an established global provider of testing and laboratory services, and this partnership is a natural fit with Fusion’s mission to enable pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to develop innovative products in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

Dr Julie Gormley, Commercial Senior Director of Fusion Antibodies, said: “This partnership brings together two world leaders in their respective fields and will enable scientists to focus on their research while our services ensure efficient and robust results. I look forward to working closely with colleagues at Eurofins Discovery throughout 2021 and beyond.”

The collaboration between Fusion Antibodies and Eurofins Discovery will last for an initial two-year period and is a commitment to provide world-class scientific expertise, next-generation technology, and guidance to accelerate the delivery of the best possible antibody against a broad range of targets and therapeutic areas into the clinic.

Fusion Antibodies and BioTickle partnership delivers value with proprietary antibody discovery, engineering and cell line technologies

Fusion Antibodies, pre-clinical antibody discovery and development experts and BioTickle, their exclusive distributor in India, are providing local biopharmaceutical organisations with access to invaluable unique biopharmaceutical development capabilities.

As Dr Richard Jones, CEO of Fusion Antibodies explains, “We are proud of the support we can offer to the biotherapeutic developers in India who are working at the leading-edge of this global industry. Together with our clients, we are developing novel therapeutic candidates aimed at a range of diseases.” Richard continues, “We can also support organisations with the development of antibodies that are specifically engineered to neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which of course is one of the biggest challenges facing the world at the moment.”

Since the emergence of COVID-19, Fusion Antibodies has dedicated resources into developing a panel of unique protein antigens for use in discovery platforms. To date, the proteins have shown excellent profiles in terms of activity and scalability. Furthermore, the company has been awarded a grant from Invest Northern Ireland to expand their COVID-19 focused research to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies.

“Through BioTickle, Fusion Antibodies is well-placed to provide world-class support to Indian biopharmaceutical developers no matter their target therapeutic area, from infectious diseases to oncology,” states Richard. “Since 2001, we have been dedicated to the discovery and development of antibodies to help bring about a positive change in the healthcare industry. Our team of experts has guided hundreds of projects through critical preclinical stages, and many of our client’s projects have advanced to clinical stage trials. Preparing for the future is also at the forefront of Fusion Antibodies. To this, we continue to grow and invest in our technologies and team to ensure we can provide our customers with the support they will need as the industry evolves over the next 10 to 20 years.”

More information about the COVID-19 related work at Fusion Antibodies and the growth of the company can be found here.

About Fusion Antibodies plc

Established in 2001 as a spin out from Queens University Belfast, Fusion Antibodies are a Collaborative Research Organisation (CRO) providing antibody discovery, engineering and supply, through to cell line development. The Company’s mission is to enable pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to develop innovative products in a timely and cost-effective manner for the benefit of the global healthcare industry.

Fusion Antibodies world-class humanization and antibody optimization platforms harnesses the power of the natural somatic hypermutation space. To address remaining market needs in antibody discovery, Fusion is creating a breakthrough fully human antibody library to capture the entire human antibody repertoire.

Fusion provides a broad range of services in antibody generation, development, production, characterisation and optimisation. These services include antigen expression, antibody production, purification and sequencing, antibody humanisation using Fusion’s proprietary CDRx™  platform and the production of antibody generating stable cell lines to provide material for use in clinical trials.

About BioTickle

Established in 2012 with a vision to make biosimilars available and affordable to approximately 5 billion people living in the Asia Pacific region, BioTickle started by populating single use bioreactors and automating bioprocesses. Now the company offers end-to-end solutions for biotherapeutic development from discovery through to supply of material via relationships with companies such as Fusion Antibodies.

BioTickle’s expertise is in end-to-end processing with the company offering solutions to improve efficiencies at both the research & development and the industrial production levels. BioTickle incorporates new technologies and innovative process flows with laboratory simulations and stringent impact analysis on full operations to make recommendations to improve bioprocess efficiency.

 

Northern Ireland Science Festival, in conjunction with Linen Biennale and funded by Northern Ireland Arts and Business, recently rolled out the virtual red carpet to premier Fusion Antibodies Head of Scientific Affairs, Dr Anthony O’Kane’s ‘Translating Linen.’

To create this piece, Dr O’Kane translated the DNA and amino acid sequences of linen into a melody, by creating a musical scale based on the amino acids of proteins generated by DNA. This piece was then overlaid with historical footage of sights and sounds of Northern Ireland linen mills provided by Northern Ireland Screen.

On completing the project, Dr O’Kane said:

“The arts and sciences do not just overcome barriers between disciplines but eliminate them such that the possibilities are limitless.

The genetic code determining the shape, structure and function of every organism is written in the codex of DNA.  Patterns of 4 bases clustered to form chains of 21 amino acids that form the proteins that govern everything in a process known as translation, hence the title of this project.”

Anthony continued:

“Art has always been integral to science. It gives scientific ideas shape and imagination. Look into any science lab notebook to see how important art is to the very creation of scientific knowledge. Simple sketches in lab notebooks can be invaluable resources for researchers when they need to remember how they conducted an experiment, or even what the results were.”

James Fair, CFO of Fusion Antibodies said:

“We were delighted to partner with Linen Biennale on this innovative project.

Innovation is at the heart of our organisation and we are proud to play our part in supporting the arts sector during this difficult time. This project is the perfect example of how organisations are successfully adapting to try and survive the impact of the pandemic.

Now, more than ever, we need to share the rich array of research in the world of science and the arts with the public and open the window to a world of thought-provoking research, and we are immensely proud of the work completed by Dr O’Kane for this project which does just that.”

Alan Clarke, Chair of R-Space Gallery and the Linen Biennale concluded:

We are delighted to raise the curtain on Dr O’Kanes ‘Translating Linen,’ and we are extremely grateful to Arts and Business for their funding and for support offered by Northern Ireland Screen which made it possible.

Finally but by no means least a huge thank you to all who participated in our programme, attended our virtual events and have helped to maintain the momentum of the festival despite current restrictions.”

To listen to the full commentary and see the amazing end result of this project visit https://www.nisciencefestival.com/e21371-translating-linen—dr-anthony-okane

Fusion Antibodies is delighted to be recognised as a Platinum Level Innovator in the Innovate NI Innovation Accreditation programme from the Department for the Economy.

The scheme recognises businesses across Northern Ireland who have shown innovation in their processes, products and or services. The platinum level indicates Fusion Antibodies have secured commercial benefits from their innovation. Fusion Antibodies have received this certification for their innovative antibody engineering and discovery platforms which have been developed based on their own intelligent design.

The Programme aims to highlight the importance of innovation for business growth, create more awareness of the value of innovation, as well as how to innovate. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of Northern Ireland businesses successfully engaging in innovation activity.

On receiving the award Dr Richard Jones, CEO of Fusion Antibodies, said:

“We are delighted to receive this award and I would like to thank our tremendous team who embody the spirit of innovation. At Fusion we are continuously innovating to enhance our capability to deliver services and solutions that allow our clients to develop the best possible antibodies against their target getting them closer to their end goal; the provision of treatments that improve the lives of patients throughout the world.

“Unlike many of our competition, our library design approach explores the natural hypermutation space; in essence, we believe that when it comes to engineering antibodies, the sequence should be kept as natural as possible and so ‘mimics’ the human system.

“I am immensely proud of what everyone has worked so hard together to achieve.  It’s a great way to start 2021 which promises to be another exciting year for the company, with a number of new exciting developments already in the pipeline.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said:

“The Innovation Accreditation Programme supports businesses to invest in innovation and improve their competitiveness. The scheme emphasises the value of innovation for business growth. Innovation is so important at this difficult time because it is essential to economic recovery. I want to congratulation Fusion Antibodies on this award and on their work on in advancing the life sciences sector.”

Congratulating the company, Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research & Development said:

“Fusion Antibodies is a highly innovative company which has benefitted from Invest NI support for R&D to position itself as a world leader in antibody development.

“It has never been more critical to support innovation within the life sciences industry and Fusion Antibodies is an excellent example of an organisation recognising the importance of investing in R&D to maintain a competitive business beyond COVID-19. 

“It is great to see the company’s hard work, effort and determination being recognised through the Innovation Accreditation Programme.

“Platinum is the highest achievable accolade awarded through the Innovation Accreditation Programme and recognises how Fusion Antibodies, through its cutting-edge research and development strategy, has created value for its business.  This culture of innovation will undoubtedly lead to future success and I look forward to following their innovation journey.” 

Local businesses can find out more about the Innovation Accreditation Programme at www.innovateni.com

New funding to enable the development of pioneering antibody engineering platform

Fusion Antibodies, pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and supply experts, and Queen’s University Belfast, leader in innovation and impact, have been awarded a £453,000 grant from Invest Northern Ireland to further expand their COVID-19 targeted research and development efforts. Within the framework of their Northern Ireland Coronavirus Antibody Development Alliance (NICADA), the two organisations will use the funds to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies with validated anti-infective properties against COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted rising demand for select antibodies, specifically engineered to neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while also facilitating diagnostic testing,” said Dr Paul Kerr, CEO at Fusion Antibodies. “Since the early stages of the pandemic, Fusion Antibodies has been committed to discovering new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to help in the fight against this growing threat. The new funding is set to further strengthen NICADA, enabling us to provide the global biopharmaceutical and clinical diagnostics communities with the necessary tools they need to mount an effective COVID-19 response.”

Building on strong scientific expertise and application knowhow, Fusion Antibodies and Queen’s University Belfast will be using the Invest Northern Ireland grant to pioneer a new commercially-competitive antibody development platform. The novel technology will be capable of simultaneously creating COVID-19 antibodies of unparalleled quality: humanised, affinity- and selectivity-matured, stability- and developability-optimised. These state-of-the-art antibodies will have a SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralisation ability, while also aiding diagnostic testing efforts.

“At NICADA, we envisage a breakthrough antibody drug therapy targeting SARS-CoV-2 directly,” said Ultan Power, Professor of Molecular Virology at The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast. “The Invest Northern Ireland grant will enable us to exploit our SARS-CoV-2 virology expertise to help generate a new antibody development platform that will allow us to realize this vision, helping us to discover new drug targets to combat the devastating COVID-19 disease.”

In anticipation of the new funding, Fusion Antibodies has already designed and expressed a panel of unique protein antigens for use in discovery platforms in the search for a neutralising therapeutic antibody against SARS-CoV-2. The panel of proteins have shown excellent profiles in terms of activity and scalability.

More information about the COVID-19 related work at Fusion Antibodies can be found here.

Here at Fusion Antibodies, we’re celebrating our 200th Antibody Humanisation project, cementing our place as a leading CRO in antibody engineering services.

“This 200th Humanisation milestone is a wonderful achievement and I’m delighted for all of these projects which we have successfully completed,” says Paul Kerr, CEO of Fusion Antibodies.

Many therapeutic antibodies start off as a non-human animal antibody and are “humanised” to avoid generating an immune response. Since the Fusion Antibodies adventure started in 2001, we have expanded the number of antibody engineering services we offer. All of this has grown from our core expertise in antibody humanisation.

In 2012 we crystallised our know-how into our proprietary CDRx™️ platform, combining our laboratory experience with powerful in silico techniques. We graft the residues responsible for affinity from the animal parent antibody onto carefully selected mature human donor frameworks that we know to be stable and express well. We know exactly which residues are key to maintaining structure and function and our in silico phase screens out sequence liabilities that can impact stability, immunogenicity, expression, and manufacturing.

Using our CDRx™️ platform, we provide our clients with a 25-variant panel of humanised antibodies that retain the affinity of the parent antibody and that are development-ready. At least a third of antibodies from our earlier humanisation projects have entered clinical trials and we’re looking forward to following the trajectory of our newer projects.

“I look forward to the next 200 projects and working with drug developers around globe to create better drugs to unmet medical needs,” says Kerr.

We work with a range of customers, from small academic groups to small biotech start-ups, all the way up to big pharmaceutical companies, and many of our customers return for repeat business. Our customers have brought us antibodies from mice, rats, chicken, llamas and birds. They have brought us full antibodies, scFvs and Fabs. And we’re proud to say that every project has finished with a successfully humanised antibody with affinity within a 2-fold difference from the parent antibody. That isn’t our only guarantee. Other CROs offer a “success or your money back” service. We go a step further, and guarantee a successfully humanised antibody, full stop. We keep going until we have a panel of humanised variants with comparable affinity to the parent antibody.  We won’t give up after one attempt, like many of our competitors, or offer your money back. We promise to keep going until we have succeeded.

“I feel proud to have developed such a robust antibody humanization platform, that consistently provides highly manufacturable antibodies to our clients. I am confident that some of the antibodies Fusion has designed will soon be marketed worldwide for the benefit of human healthcare.” says Dr Richard Buick, Chief Technical Officer of Fusion Antibodies.

The success of Fusion’s approach is down to a carefully cultivated mix of experience, curiosity and innovation. “Innovation is in our DNA at Fusion Antibodies,” says Kerr, “We will continue to improve our CDRx™️ platform with machine learning and AI.”

According to the FDA, antigen tests will play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 and like many other companies within the antibody world at large, Fusion Antibodies leveraged their antigen expertise to create multiple antigens to be used against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our extensive antigen manufacturing capabilities means that we have been able to express high-purity antigens on a commercially viable scale – the rapid scale up production of COVID-19 antigens is critical for the development of widely available diagnostic tests. Unlike the PCR tests that are currently being used, these diagnostics will be able to confirm past infections and determine levels of immunity to COVID-19. This could be invaluable for disease modelling and public health policy, as true transmission rates and case fatality rates can be determined.

The RBD (Receptor Binding Domain) proteins created by Fusion Antibodies were tested by external partners against patient blood samples that they had previously tested against a leading certified benchmark test and our results, shown in the graph below, correlated exactly.

Dr Richard Buick, Chief Technical Officer of Fusion Antibodies, said:

“We are committed to developing the highest quality reagents to be used in the fight against COVID-19. Recent lab studies have shown that results using our antigens correlate 100% with clinical data from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. We are using these high quality antigens to pan our human antibody library for SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies, and we are delighted to now be able to make these antigens available to companies and researchers around the world to Test, Track & Trace this disease.”

Paul Kerr, CEO of Fusion Antibodies said:

“According to the FDA, antigen tests will play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 and like many other companies within the antibody world at large, we are leveraging our antigen expertise to create multiple antigens to be used against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

COVID-19: Antigen Design and Manufacture

Sample data below from the SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein validated externally from over 100 samples in total using a commercial assay and patient +ve sera.