DARPA eyes better biosensors

July 12, 2010 at 1:17 PM
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SAN DIEGO, July 12 (UPI) -- DARPA has given AnaptysBio a contract to produce thermally stable antibodies to detect toxic substances and bioterrorist threats.

"The military often operates under harsh conditions that can shorten the useful life of important safety-related equipment such as antibody-based biosensor instruments capable of detecting trace amounts of toxic substances," said Tom Smart, chairman and chief executive officer for AnaptysBio.

"Using our SHM-Platform, we have the potential to revolutionize the way antibodies are generated or improved, in this case enabling the generation of thermally stable antibodies for use in biosensors with full retention of functionality.

"The results also may have applications within the pharmaceutical industry for more flexible and less costly formulation and storage requirements for therapeutic antibodies," he said.

The award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has a potential value of $1.5 million. Work would be performed over a 2-year period.

AnaptysBio said biosensors allow for rapid detection of target molecules -- such as airborne bacteria and water contaminants -- and provide a high level of sensitivity and specificity. The use of conventional antibodies in biosensors, however, has often been limited by stability issues such as sensitivity to heat.

Biosensors allow for rapid detection of target molecules, providing high levels of sensitivity and specificity. For example, in environmental monitoring, biosensors can sense toxic substances, such as airborne bacteria, pesticides and water contaminants. For military applications, biosensors can be used to detect potential bioterrorist threats. Antibodies, due to their high affinity and exquisite specificity, have become a preferred component for use in a wide variety of biosensors. Although highly versatile, use of conventional antibodies in biosensors has often been limited by stability issues such as sensitivity to heat.

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