Josh Eckman, CEO
The drug discovery realm has undergone a rapid shift in the past few years with the emergence of novel technologies. This has enabled researchers to introduce numerous life-saving drugs to treat critical medical conditions. However, despite these advancements, the quick discovery of novel therapeutic candidates remains a challenge for the industry. The main obstacle for drug discovery researchers is throughput as they screen and characterize large libraries of antibody candidates quickly for an efficacious therapeutic. Another challenge is the inability to identify failed candidates earlier. Consequently, companies spend significant development dollars on candidates that will not prove to be suitable therapeutics thereby prolonging the time-to-market and increasing the cost of life-saving medicines.
Carterra’s LSA platform is built to address all of these challenges, enabling large and small companies to bring therapeutics to the market at a rapid pace.
Carterra is a leading provider of innovative technologies designed to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutic candidates. The company’s high throughput LSA instrument for monoclonal antibody (mAb) screening and characterization combines patented microfluidic technology with real-time High-Throughput Surface Plasmon Resonance (HT-SPR), and industry-leading Kinetic and Epitope analysis and visualization software. It has the capability to deliver up to 100 times the throughput in 10 percent of the time while using only one percent of the sample compared to existing platforms.
“With more than 5,000 human diseases not having a cure, we strive to enable better decision-making early in the drug discovery process,” says Josh Eckman, CEO of Carterra.
HT-SPR from Carterra is instrumental in shortening development timelines and reducing costs. With the ability to make better decisions, drug candidates likely to fail can be detected earlier limiting their cost burden and potentially contributing to a reduction in market prices of emerging therapeutics. This allows biotherapeutics to be affordable globally, including in developing countries in Asia and Africa.
Combining High-Throughput Microfluidics
The LSA platform provides researchers with better throughput and functionality for screening and characterization compared to traditional antibody expression systems.
It allows all antibodies to be tested quickly and thoroughly early in the discovery phase, allowing for the identification of unique epitopes and possible innovative therapeutic candidates, while also improving IP coverage.
The instrument combines high-throughput microfluidics for array printing with gold standard, label-free SPR detection. Through high-resolution and high-throughput binding analysis, detailed interrogation of protein binding and the epitope becomes a reality at a pace that was previously unimaginable. Essentially, months of work can be compressed to just a couple of weeks.
Carterra’s LSA is used by 18 of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies globally, has a broad user base, including pharma, biotech, and contract research organizations, and has also been adopted by government and academic research labs like the NIH and the FDA.
The fastest and most renowned effort for addressing COVID-19 using the LSA was conducted by Eli Lilly and Company along with their collaborator, AbCellera.
With more than 5,000 human diseases not having a cure, we strive toward enabling better decision-making early in the drug discovery process
Lilly and AbCellera announced to the world their intention to collaborate to find a potential therapeutic for the pandemic by isolating 500 or more antibodies from the blood of one of the first COVID-19 survivors.
From the time of their announcement in March of 2020 to bringing an antibody candidate to the clinic was just 90 days. Previously, there had been no biologic discovered and characterized faster. Carterra’s LSA played a significant role in the speed and efficiency that this record-breaking discovery demonstrated. Eli Lilly and AbCellera published their work in the journal Science.
“The resulting speed at which this drug discovery and development effort proceeded, with progression to human treatment only 90 days after the initiation of antibody screening, was due to advanced discovery and characterization platforms [emphasis added],” they stated.
Another example can be cited from the CoVIC project. The Gates Foundation was in the process of announcing $125 million in seed funding for their COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. As part of that effort, a global consortium would be funded to try and discover antibodies that could be effective against COVID-19.
The embodiment of these efforts became the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC), led by Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
The work that the Consortium has done has been ground-breaking in its effect on research approaches to emerging diseases. Several antibodies as therapeutic candidates have been discovered, and multiple scientific papers have been published.
Carterra’s LSA was used as the principal engine to characterize the antibodies coming in from all over the world. Together with the Georgia D. Tomaras lab at Duke University, which also deployed the LSA, both affinity and epitope data were combined with other techniques to determine the antibodies having the best activity against COVID-19. Beyond that, it was also possible to suggest which antibodies may be combined with each other to make the therapeutic effect from an antibody cocktail even more potent.
Towards a Novel Area of Drug Development
Our ultimate goal is to dramatically reduce the cost of biotherapeutics, and significantly expand their availability worldwide significantly, by leveling the playing field between large pharma and smaller organizations with technology
By enabling breakthroughs in biotherapeutic drug discovery, Carterra plans to expand its global footprint and support its customers locally and internationally. The company will develop new application workflows, increasing the applicability of the HT-SPR technology in downstream applications. Carterra is also expanding its applications to include assays for Targeted Protein Degradation (TPD), a novel area of drug development. DNA Encoded Libraries (DELs) assays will also broaden the platform’s potential in small molecule drug development.
“Our ultimate goal is to dramatically reduce the cost of biotherapeutics, and significantly expand their availability worldwide, by leveling the playing field between large pharma and smaller organizations with technology,” says Eckman.