New EMBL spinoff company Velabs Therapeutics strives to speed up the discovery of new and better therapeutic antibodies
Microfluidics technology developed at EMBL enables the rapid screening of antibodies, which can help in the development of new therapies. Through its technology transfer arm, EMBLEM, and with the support of private investors, EMBL has launched spinoff company Velabs Therapeutics to make a new microfluidics platform available to the global antibody research community.
Microfluidics is the application of the properties that fluids display at very small scales that allows biologists to rapidly sample and analyse small groups of molecules.
“We have been using microfluidics at EMBL for years, and seen its potential in different fields,” says Christoph Merten, group leader at EMBL Heidelberg and developer of the platform. “Especially in the field of antibody screening the advantages of our platform over existing technologies stood out.”
Velabs is pioneering microfluidics-based technologies for the functional screening of antibodies. Its high-throughput screening platform allows for testing millions of correctly paired fully natural antibodies from humans and mice for therapeutic effects. Results are obtained in only a fraction of the time required by other technologies, therefore promising to significantly shorten the pre-clinical development cycle.
“We have built a solid patent portfolio around the microfluidic technology at EMBL over the years and the novel platform has been validated in several industry collaborations. Velabs Therapeutics now has a strong basis to expand the technology and make it broadly available in the market”, says Gábor Lamm, Managing Director of EMBLEM.
Velabs offers customized screening services for users worldwide. Besides carrying out service projects, the company also works on establishing a proprietary pipeline of therapeutic antibody candidates and further development of the technology platform.
About Velabs Therapeutics
Velabs Therapeutics is a spin-out from Europe’s most prestigious life science research and instrumentation institute, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), which has been at the forefront of microfluidics-based screening technology development and applications world-wide. The company’s droplet-based microfluidic screening technology aims at the fast generation of antibodies against target molecules presented on cellular membrane surfaces or as soluble protein. VELABS has pioneered the use of droplet microfluidics for the fast screening of correctly paired human antibodies that do not just bind to a drug target, but rather modulate its function.
EMBL is Europe’s flagship laboratory for the life sciences. Established in 1974 as an intergovernmental organisation, EMBL is supported by over 20 member states. EMBL performs fundamental research in molecular biology, studying the story of life. The institute offers services to the scientific community; trains the next generation of scientists and strives to integrate the life sciences across Europe. EMBL is international, innovative and interdisciplinary. Its more than 1600 staff, from over 80 countries, operate across six sites in Barcelona (Spain), Grenoble (France), Hamburg (Germany), Heidelberg (Germany), Hinxton (UK) and Rome (Italy). EMBL scientists work in independent groups and conduct research and offer services in all areas of molecular biology. EMBL research drives the development of new technology and methods in the life sciences. The institute works to transfer this knowledge for the benefit of society.
EMBLEM, established in 1999, identifies, protects and commercializes the intellectual property developed in the EMBL world, from EMBL alumni and from non-EMBL third parties. EMBLEM currently manages a portfolio of more than 350 granted patents and patent applications, and has created 18 spin-out companies. EMBLEM facilitates and accelerates the transfer of innovative technology from basic research to industry by working closely with industrial partners spanning the biotech, IT and mechanical/electrical engineering markets and currently has more than 400 licensees of EMBL technologies.
The nucleus of this cell fluoresces in bright green thanks to GFP-labelled nucleoporin proteins. EMBL scientists use engineered nucleoporins as 3D reference standards to improve super-resolution microscopy.