Company focuses on finding coronavirus antibodies in push for new therapeutics

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With experts eyeing 2021 as the earliest possible rollout for a COVID-19 vaccine, some may wonder why the the development process takes so long.

“This disease has put a spotlight on how challenging it is to develop a therapeutic and the timelines that are required to do so,” Dr. Eric Hobbs, Berkeley Lights CEO, told Fox News.

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Berkeley Lights, a digital cell biology company that sells its platforms to other biotech companies and top pharmaceutical firms, is focused on accelerating rates at which biotherapeutics can be commercialized through their Beacon system while researchers continue to search for a potential vaccine.

Their optoelectronics technology deploys optofluidics, which essentially uses light to move cells in nanopens to measure antibody concentration.

The company determines the best antibody candidates at a fraction of the time and cost as compared to traditional approaches, Hobbs said.

On Wednesday, Berkeley Lights, Ablexis and AlivaMab Discovery services together announced the discovery of a large panel of functionally diverse antibodies.

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Hobbs said a continued push for the best antibody candidates is in society’s best interests as other potential therapeutics fall through. The company is seeking out “blocking antibodies,” which can block antigens from invading cells in the body.

In late March, the company announced the “Global Emerging Pathogen Antibody Discovery Consortium” alongside Vanderbilt University Medical Center, La Jolla Institute for Immunology and Emory University to hasten the discovery of neutralizing antibodies from patient blood samples.

With such technology available, Hobbs said it is inexcusable to fall into an otherwise preventable pandemic again.

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“There’s absolutely no reason at all that the CDCs around the world shouldn’t unite and have access to enabling technology to proactively find antibody therapeutic candidates to diseases,” Hobbs said, refering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There’s a top 100 list of diseases that are at risk of moving to humans from animals.

“I believe we should prepare for that now instead of waiting and being in a situation like this again, we should take that next step, place Berkeley Light systems at all of CDC and have them operating list of most dangerous emerging pathogens so we have solutions on the shelf,” he said.