All about antibodies

Merger marries cutting-edge research players

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OXFORD, U.K. & BOSTON—The recent merger between Absolute Antibody Ltd. and Kerafast opens the door for both companies to grow their international footprints and expand customer service on both continents. The merger will allow the two companies, with a shared goal of improving the available selection of research tools, to enhance and expand the accessibility of recombinant antibodies to scientists globally.
Kerafast functions at the center of a biotech hub. With the mission of facilitating access to unique laboratory-made reagents, they currently hold a catalog of more than 3,500 materials, obtained primarily from prominent academic research programs worldwide. Their holdings include antibodies, cell lines, proteins and other tools which they make readily accessible to scientists, bypassing many traditional barriers to the sharing of biomaterials.
Absolute Antibody also boasts a comprehensive catalog—in this case more than 3,400 recombinant antibodies in specially engineered versions, absolutely defined at the amino acid level to ensure batch-to-batch reproducibility. Their main services cover antibody engineering and class switching, antibody expression and hybridoma sequencing. Their custom expression and engineering services have been used by 14 of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in terms of R&D spending, as well as groups from biotechnology, diagnostics and academia, for projects such as antibody sequencing, chimerization, humanization and more.
Principles from the two organizations recognized a shared vision to expand to the other continent, to expand each customer base, to provide better customer service and to be in the same time zone as many more customers. Rather than replicate efforts, the two companies opted to merge, with the combination completing in February 2018. The two companies are currently retaining their independent names, websites and employees, but envision operating under a single brand with integrated operations within the next year.
“We are very excited to be joining forces with the Kerafast team,” said Dr. Nicholas Hutchings, founder and CEO of Absolute Antibody. “We believe all researchers should have access to recombinant versions of antibodies, especially those developed in academic laboratories that have been the bedrock of so much scientific research. Kerafast’s strong existing relationships with research institutions will allow us to advance the creation and availability of recombinant antibodies.”
According to Dr. Jennifer Rossi, chief operating officer of Kerafast, the merger will bring the agnostic breadth of the Kerafast catalog together with the more targeted holdings of Absolute Antibody, which has a stronger focus on the immuno-oncology space with lines from multiple species. While the companies share many synergies, according to Rossi, they do not overlap, thereby increasing benefits for both companies and their respective customers. Likewise, Kerafast’s Boston location presents tremendous growth for Absolute Antibody holdings because of increased access in such a vibrant scientific community.
Rossi sees additional possibilities from the merger. The presence of cell lines and antibodies both in the United States and in Europe will facilitate the transport of live and frozen cells without the added fragility posed by international transport. Their combined ability to take existing antibodies held in the Kerafast catalog and apply the sequencing expertise of Absolute Antibody will allow many of Kerafast’s assets to be more strongly protected, with significantly greater reproducibility and the ability to apply versions to additional species, creating a wide array of new possibilities.
“We are delighted to merge with Absolute Antibody, whose team shares our dedication to helping researchers harness the power of reagents to accelerate scientific progress,” said Rossi. “Together, our staff will continue to change the way unique and useful research tools are created, accessed and used by scientists worldwide.”

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