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Synergy between research and valorization for disease management by PharmAbs and the Biosensors group


Focused on providing solutions for improved management of diseases, PharmAbs is an innovation, incubation and valorization platform at KU Leuven that bridges the gap between cutting-edge academic research and practical industry/clinical implementation. PharmAbs’ primary objective is to cultivate a pipeline of groundbreaking antibody-based diagnostic and therapeutic solutions emerging from pioneering academic research. In this context, they collaborate closely with the Biosensors group at KU Leuven, committed to advancing bio-molecular detection concepts and miniaturized analysis systems, tailored for various life science applications. Their recent endeavors, within the realm of microfluidics for single-cell omics, have gained momentum through extensive collaborations with fellow research groups and industry partners.

“In the Biosensors group, we develop tailored assays on our in-house developed droplet-microfluidic setup to solve pertinent biological questions. We are happy to see that Cyto-Mine® makes it possible to translate these assays to the labs of collaborators that lack microfluidic expertise, thus making droplet microfluidic tools accessible to the wider scientific community.”

Karen Ven, Post Doctoral Researcher at KUL Biosensors 

MabMine®: Unleashing the Power of Antibody Repertoires

To deepen the exploration of antibody repertoires and foster the development of potent monoclonal antibodies, PharmAbs and the Biosensors group joined forces to create the MabMine® platform. This platform includes different approaches for the identification and isolation of individual B cells of interest, followed by antibody sequencing and characterization. Initially utilizing fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and internally developed continuous microfluidic techniques, the team successfully isolated antigen-specific single memory B cells, e.g. for the discovery of highly potent SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing mAbs.

Recognizing the need to broaden capabilities and enhance the efficiency of antibody-secreting cell screening, the collaborative team seamlessly integrated Cyto-Mine® into their workflow. The system has proven highly successful in discerning secreting hybridoma cells from non-secretors. Currently, the team is exploring Cyto-Mine’s potential for sorting secreting primary cells from various sources, including human donors, immunized mice, and camelids.

“It is very exciting to see our technology being used in the novel scientific research at KU Leuven. We see this as a great opportunity to push the boundaries of the assay and application capabilities of Cyto-Mine®. We are working closely with KU Leuven scientists to implement new workflows in Cyto-Mine® to enhance their capabilities of the MabMine® platform.”   

Xin Liu, Director of Technical Support at Sphere Fluidics 

PharmAbs and the Biosensors group’s updated workflow integrating Cyto-Mine®. Revolutionizing Biologics Discovery

Figure 1. PharmAbs and the Biosensors group’s updated workflow, integrating Cyto-Mine® with their proprietary MabMine® platform, has enabled them to efficiently distinguish secreting hybridoma cells from non-secretors.

Future Frontiers: Cyto-Mine® Expanding Horizons 

The success of Cyto-Mine® in the screening process has opened doors to exciting possibilities. The team at PharmAbs and the Biosensors group have ambitious plans to leverage Cyto-Mine® for functional antibody screenings. This involves the immediate selection of single B cells based on functional characteristics, such as agonist-receptor blocking.

Looking ahead, Cyto-Mine® is set to play a pivotal role in cell line development. The team aims to explore its capabilities in stable cell line generation and screening of display libraries, showcasing the versatility of this revolutionary system.

In summary, the integration of Cyto-Mine® at KU Leuven represents a significant leap forward in the field of biologics discovery and development. PharmAbs and the Biosensors group continue to push boundaries, turning academic research into practical solutions that hold the promise of transforming disease management. The journey is ongoing, with Cyto-Mine® at the helm, steering towards a future where innovation seamlessly translates into tangible advancements in healthcare and beyond.

“With the acquisition of Cyto-Mine®, we are now able to analyze and evaluate both memory B cells and antibody-secreting cells, thereby expanding our capabilities to find the right antibody for our diagnostic and therapeutic programs.”

Maya Imbrechts, Project Manager at PharmAbs
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