Drug discovery & diagnostics : shifting the 20th century paradigm using protein engineering & microfluidics

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Contact :
André Klarsfeld
Professeur ESPCI ParisTech
Laboratoire de Neurobiologie (ESPCI/CNRS UMR 7637)
Equipe "Gènes Circuits Rythmes Neuropathologie"

18 octobre 2013 13:30 » 15:00 — Amphithéâtre Paul-Langevin

Andrew Griffiths, Professor of Biochemistry at ESPCI ParisTech

BioMedical Engineering Master Seminar

Over the last 20 years there has been a profound revolution in drug discovery. Historically, the vast majority of drugs were small molecules (typically <1000 Da), which were either natural biomolecules, or molecules made by organic synthesis. However, today, the most rapidly growing class of therapeutic molecules are biologics, which are large biopolymers, most commonly proteins, but also nucleic acids. Total biologics sales in 2011 were 113 billion US$. The most important class of biologics are undoubtedly antibodies, which are large (250,000 Da) proteins. Although the idea of using antibodies as “magic bullets” dates back to the end of the 19th century it is only recently that truly effective antibody therapy has been possible : today, seven of the top ten selling drugs are antibodies, there are more than 30 antibodies approved for therapy and hundreds more in development. I will explain the history of therapeutic antibodies and the commercialisation of the technologies developed in our laboratory in Cambridge via licensing and the creation of start-ups. I will also discuss how the application of physics is set to create a second revolution in drug discovery and diagnostics. In particular, I will focus on the development of droplet-based microfluidic systems, which compartmentalise reactions in droplets. They function like the wells of microtitre plates but have volumes a thousand to a million times smaller. This microfluidic miniaturisation is somewhat analogous to microprocessors, where transistor density has increased by 100,000-fold in the past few decades.

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