September 16, 2012

Craigslist Enables Medical Breakthrough at Bay Area Biotech

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Scientists from Sea Lane Biotechnologies used to recruit people to donate their bone marrow leading to a breakthrough in the fight against influenza.  Because the bone marrow is a “fossil record” of all antibodies a person has ever made, Sea Lane made an international and local effort to recruit donors who had been exposed to a variety of flu viruses, which also included a direct appeal to donate through a Craigslist advertisement.  Sea Lane then made libraries of antibodies from the bone marrow of dozens of donors and screened through nearly 11 billion different antibodies to find a very special antibody, which they dubbed C05.  “Our C05 antibody is remarkable in how it broadly recognizes a critical component of the flu virus used to attach to and infect a person’s cells which enables it to treat many different flu viruses,” said Ramesh Bhatt, Vice President of Research for Sea Lane. 

In the experimental work, the C05 antibody prevented the mice from succumbing to a variety of lethal influenza A exposures and was also successful in treating mice up to three days after a normally lethal flu infection had begun.


Sea Lane took this antibody to Ian A. Wilson, the Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at The Scripps Research Institute to better understand how the antibody works.  Together, Sea Lane and Scripps solved the co-crystal structure of the antibody to understand precisely how it works as it bound to a flu virus.  The report is available online in the journal Nature.


New Keys to Universal Vaccine Design


C05 uniquely recognizes a conserved portion of the flu virus allowing it to neutralize a broad range of dangerous influenza A viruses, including H1, H2, H3 and H9 subtypes.  “This antibody has the potential to provide treatment for patients where traditional vaccine and other options are either ineffective or too late,” said Lawrence Horowitz, CEO of Sea Lane Biotechnologies.  “Publishing this work allows the broader scientific community to know about this fundamental finding and help in future for the development of ways to induce this sort of antibody in a vaccine so that we can develop universal protection to influenza,”


Authors of the paper, “Neutralization of Influenza A viruses by insertion of a single antibody loop into the receptor binding site,” were Ramesh Bhatt, Arun Kashyap, , Michael A. Dillon, Ryann E. O’Neil, Aleksandr M. Faynboym, Michael Horowitz, and Lawrence Horowitz of Sea Lane; John Steele and Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Adam Rubrum and Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital of Memphis, Tennessee; and Damien C. Ekiert, Gira Bhabha, Reza Khayat, Jeong Hyun Lee, Andrew B. Ward, Richard A. Lerner and Ian A. Wilson of The Scripps Research Institute.


The study was funded in part by grants to Scripps from the National Institutes of Health (P01 AI058113 and GM080209) and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.


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