Public-Private Collaboration Takes Aim at Hard-to-Target Cancers

Fargo, N.D., USA (3/13/2023) – Genovac, a Fargo based contract research and manufacturing organization (CRO/CMO) that discovers, develops, and manufactures antibodies for therapeutic, diagnostic, and research market segments, and North Dakota State University announced a new research collaboration. The collaboration is also supported by Berkeley Lights, developer of the Beacon® Optofluidic System.

The primary objective for the collaboration is to advance the development of novel drugs and therapeutics to address the world’s most challenging diseases by enabling access to the world-class immunization and single B cell technologies.

“We’ve had the honor of supporting the antibody discovery efforts of leading biotechnology companies and research institutions across the United States, Europe and Asia” said Brian Walters, Genovac CEO. “The molecules discovered through these projects and collaborations have served as the catalyst for new therapeutic drugs, diagnostic products and startup businesses.”

“It is immensely gratifying for the Genovac team to apply our industry-leading immunization and screening technologies to support a local research and development initiative, and we’re grateful for the vision and commitment of Commissioners Doug Goehring and Josh Teigan, and ND Bio Director Randy Schneider to the growth of North Dakota biotechnology businesses”, said Walters.  

Researchers Dr. Estelle Leclerc and Dr. Stefan Vetter in the NDSU Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences have extensive experience studying activation and signaling of the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE), which has been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple types of cancer, and COVID-19. Specifically, the collaboration will explore potential therapeutic uses of RAGE-specific antibodies, with an initial focus on melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

“We are working to discover high-quality antibodies for rapid clinical testing and therapeutic product development,” Leclerc said.

Under the research agreement, Leclerc and Vetter will perform preclinical evaluation and characterization of Genovac-generated antibodies by way of biophysical characterization (epitope definition, binding kinetics, thermodynamics) and cell-based evaluation (inhibition of RAGE function in cells). Genovac will use its advanced genetic immunization technologies and the Beacon Platform to discover high-quality, high-affinity, RAGE-specific antibodies while providing additional functional characterization and production at its laboratories in the NDSU Research & Technology Park.

“Working with this type of research and technology provides students in our lab a unique opportunity to advance their skills as they prepare for future careers,” said Vetter.

“We’re proud to support Drs. Leclerc’s and Vetter’s research mission and desire to develop commercial products in North Dakota,” said Walters. “We’re also grateful for the support Berkeley Lights has provided in this endeavor. They understand the vital importance of providing academic researchers access to advanced and novel technologies in support of new approaches to drug discovery and product development.”

The private-public collaboration has provided a rare opportunity for the analysis of a diverse set of antibodies to help identify the best candidates for therapeutic, diagnostic or research purposes. This unique approach emphasizes the significant impact that this collaboration will have on advancing the field of drug discovery and development.

About Genovac

Genovac is a contract research and manufacturing organization offering the world’s most advanced antibody discovery solutions. Its immunization technologies, combined with multiple single B cell screening technologies, including Berkeley Lights’ Beacon, enable success against the most challenging targets. Since its founding in 1999, Genovac has completed more than 3,600 projects, providing antibodies to clients in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia that have been developed into clinical and commercial drugs.  In addition to its headquarters and labs in Fargo, North Dakota, Genovac operates another scientific and production facility in Freiberg, Germany.

About NDSU

North Dakota State University is an R1 research institution and a place where students experience opportunities to grow, contribute and prepare for fulfilling careers. As the highest research status presented by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, R1 denotes institutions with a high level of research expenditures that produce PhD graduates across a balanced portfolio of disciplines. The research portfolio for the College of Health Professions includes prestigious R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health, with research focused on the role of pharmaceutical sciences in disease prevention, disease treatment, and additional research to promote health.

About Berkeley Lights
Berkeley Lights is a leading digital cell biology company focused on enabling and accelerating the rapid development and commercialization of biotherapeutics and other cell-based products for our customers. The Berkeley Lights Platform captures deep phenotypic, functional and genotypic information for thousands of single cells in parallel and can also deliver the live biology customers desire in the form of the best cells. Our platform is a fully integrated, end-to-end solution, comprising proprietary consumables, including our OptoSelect® chips and reagent kits, advanced automation systems, and application software. We developed the Berkeley Lights Platform to provide the most advanced environment for rapid functional characterization of single cells at scale, the goal of which is to establish an industry standard for our customers throughout their cell-based product value chain.

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