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European Biopharmaceutical Review

The Vital Role of Transient Antibody Expression During Pandemics

In a pandemic such as COVID-19, three critical things need to be developed: diagnostics, to determine who has or had the disease; therapeutics, to treat critically ill patients; and vaccines, to prevent further spread of the disease. On all three fronts, speed of development is critical to address the exponentially growing needs of the global population as a pandemic takes hold. Transient expression of antibodies, and other therapeutic proteins, offer an important tool for the rapid scale-up of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. It is a wellestablished technique that, if applied correctly, could make future pandemic responses quicker.

Broadly speaking, there are five different approaches to manufacturing antibodies. The in vitro diagnostics (IVD) market typically utilises either polyclonal antibodies from animal immunisation, or hybridoma-derived monoclonal antibodies. Both techniques are relatively low cost, but scaling them rapidly to produce large quantities of antibodies can be challenging; polyclonal yield is approximately 200mg per goat, while monoclonal productivity is 10-100mg/L of cell culture. To put this into perspective, our estimates are that approximately 1kg of antibodies is needed to manufacture lateral flow antibody testing devices for one billion people. These types of antibodies also face problems with batch-to-batch reproducibility (1).

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Dr Michael Fiebig studied Biochemistry before obtaining his Doctoral degree at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK. He joined Absolute Antibody in 2014 and is responsible for the reagents catalogue, antibody licensing, product development, and service opportunities to help customers and business partners harness the benefits of recombinant antibody technology across the research reagents, diagnostics, and therapeutic markets.
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