Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Podcast: Immunosignaturing and Non-Natural Peptide Space

In our final Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics podcast, we sit down with Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston, Professor and Co-Director at The Center for Innovations in Medicine at The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He will be joining us this year in Huntington Beach to present the Array-based Immunosignatures as a Universal Diagnostic Platform.

He recently previewed some of the topics he'll be highlighting in his talk in this interview:
First of all, can you tell us how does “immunosignaturing” work?
Stephen: It is a very simple new platform for diagnostics primarily where you take a drop of blood, you dilute it about 10,000 fold in buffer and you apply to half a square centimeter chip. On that chip are 330,000 peptides that are from non-natural sequence space. Then, after it binds you wash it off and then you detect the antibodies that are bound there. The antibodies that are bound will provide a signature of the health status of a person.

What is the advantage of using non-natural peptide space on your chips? Why not use natural peptide sequences?
Stephen: That is a good question and I’m often asked that. It has several advantages. One is that the non-natural space peptides will pick up any type of antibodies; antibodies like glycoproteins or structural epitopes, things like this, which an unnatural sequence might not.

The other is that it allows us to use the same chip for any detection of any disease. So, the same chip is used for a cancer diagnostic or an infectious disease diagnostic. Indeed it can be used for different species. The same chip is used for diagnosing disease in dogs, as well as people. 
The third is that by using unnatural sequence space it gives you degrees in freedom in your peptide design that has a very strong manufacturing implication to improve the manufacturing of your chips. 
For attendees at the meeting, why might they be interested in this technology?
Stephen: Well, primarily I think people will be interested if they’re interested in diagnostics because it’s a new platform and it’s very universal. I think that other people that are there at the meetings – at least when I’ve been there before – will be interested in it as sort of a research tool for studying the nature of antibody binding itself or potentially for other applications like vaccine development and things like that.

What do you think is the biggest potential impact of this technology?
Stephen: Well, we’ve developed it because we wanted to revolutionize how people monitor their health. We would hope that this platform would allow us to have a system where people could regularly send in a drop of blood through the standard mail. That could be assay comprehensively and cheaply for any new disease indication and detected early.

With that vision in mind is why we went from using printed arrays or re-spotted peptides to the system that we use now where we essentially synthesize these peptides using basically the same process that Intel does for making computer chips. We now use that so we can make peptide chips so that it can scale to make millions of these chips every year.

What are you looking forward to about this year’s Antibody Engineering event?
Stephen: Well, obviously you guys have put together a really good set of keynote speakers and I’m looking forward to it.

As I said, we are looking forward to presenting this technology to other people in this field so that they can look to see what other applications they might find for it. But I really look forward to it because I like to get down in the weeds and look to see who has some new concept or innovation that will be leading edge in the near future.

Download the audio and PDF of Stephen's transcript here.

The Antibody Engineering & Therapeutics Event will take place December 8-12, 2013 in Huntington Beach, California. For more information on Dr. Johnston's presentation and the rest of the program, download the agenda.  If you'd like to join us, as a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code XD13172BLOGJP, you can save 20% off the standard rate!

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