Specifica sells antibody library platform to UCB

The Generation 3 Library Platform will boost UCB’s discovery efforts

February 24, 2021
Lori Lesko
Specifica sells antibody library platform to UCB

SANTA FE, NM—Known for a lead role in advancing antibody discovery, Specifica has delivered an exclusive antibody library platform to UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines for people suffering from severe diseases of the immune system and the central nervous system. 

“Specifica’s Generation 3 Library Platform has quality built-in by design,” Kenneth Sharples, CEO and co-founder of Specifica, announced Dec. 1. “Antibodies from our Generation 3 Platform have few liabilities, and over 80 percent behave as well as—or better than—the best therapeutic antibodies. We’re pleased to arm UCB with a high-quality discovery platform and the training and support to ensure its value to drug discovery for years to come.”

Specifica declined to respond to questions from DDN, including the financial details of the deal with UCB. This is Specifica’s third such deal of the year, following agreements with Bayer and Scholar Rock.

Daniel Lightwood, UCB’s head of Antibody Discovery, stated, “The Specifica Generation 3 Library provides a new tool to use alongside our existing platforms and technologies, which enhances our therapeutic antibody discovery capabilities. We expect that the platform will provide a more reliable and rapid source of therapeutic antibody molecules than previous in-vitro display technologies, and it complements our existing powerful immunization-based single B cell screening platform.”

“Our decision to acquire this library comes after extensive testing and evaluation of its potential to provide molecules with desired properties and forms, part of UCB’s ongoing commitment to remain at the forefront of antibody drug discovery,” he adds.

Specifica offers antibody library platforms in both Fab and scFv formats, each of which have their advantages in antibody discovery. The Fab format recapitulates more closely the full-length IgG molecule, containing both variable regions and constant regions, while the scFv is a single-gene construct comprising only the variable regions, which tend to be easier to use. 

Using next-generation sequencing for quality control at all steps of construction and validation, Specifica ensures high diversity standards by counting the number of different antibodies in each Specifica library, the company states. Each Generation 3 Library Platform Specifica provides to its partners is exclusive to that partner, created from unique donor sets not used for any other library, guaranteeing each supplied Generation 3 platform is one of a kind. Specifica also uses its in-house library to carry out discovery services for partners.

In other recent news from UCB, the company’s UCB Community Health Fund committed to 50 COVID-19 support and research projects, with more projects to be announced in Spring 2021.

Launched in June 2020, the UCB Community Health Fund directed funds to 50 impact-driven organizations and projects aiming to understand and reduce the medium- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health of vulnerable young people.

The UCB Community Health Fund closed its first call for projects at the end of September 2020. A total of 170 applications for support projects and 43 applications for research projects were received from several countries where UCB operates.

The management committee of the Fund (managed by the King Baudouin Foundation) appointed independent selection committees with a broad geographical representation to assist in the selection of projects and award of funding. In total, 44 support projects and six research projects were awarded a total of €2.44 million.

One group of awarded organizations will be mitigating health and psychosocial risks of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable and isolated youth. In Belgium, 22 nonprofit organizations and foundations have been selected. The grants for research projects are made available to hospitals and universities, studying the impact of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of young people in Belgium (four projects) and the United Kingdom (two projects).

“The high amount of applications confirmed there is a big need for support of vulnerable populations,” commented Xavier Hormaechea, secretary-general of the UCB Community Health Fund. “While the selection committee was impressed with the good quality of proposed projects, we particularly focused on inspiring projects with a lasting positive impact, particularly on young people between 15 to 24 years old.

“We hope the funding will enable all the awarded organizations to continue the impressive work they are doing in their communities.”

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