"It’s basically a tribute to the size and the diversity of the library, as Jake says it’s a triumph of numbers. When you have a library of 76 billion antibodies with unprecedented fully-natural CDR diversity you are more likely to find lead antibodies that have optimal bio-physical characteristics. This was exactly what our customers found"
The Journey of a Revolutionary Technology
Started out in 2012 as a joint venture of the three founders, Giles Day, Jacob Glanville and Chris Smith, Distributed Bio began its journey as a virtual company. The founders of the company realized early-on the increasing traction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology in antibody discovery campaigns. As the production of NGS data became commoditized, they noticed that this technology lacked one crucial component—a software platform that can efficiently analyze the antibody record of the NGS data. Day explains, “CSO and co-founder Dr. Jacob Glanville was one of the early pioneers of integrating NGS and antibody discovery.
We use the convergence of big data, artificial intelligence, rational library design and automation to produce a tangible product, antibody therapeutics that can meet unmet medical needs faster than ever
Triumph of Numbers
Today, Distributed Bio caters to a wide variety of customers with diverse requirements and needs. Day cites the case study of one such customer engagement where the customer needed an antibody that could bind to the human, mouse and monkey variants of PD-1. The low homology between these variants has made finding or engineering antibodies to meet these criteria extremely challenging. The SuperHuman library exceeded the customer's expectations by producing scores of species cross-reactive PD-1 binding antibodies that required no engineering or optimization. “It’s basically a tribute to the size and the diversity of the library, as Jake says it’s ‘a triumph of numbers.’ When you have a library of 76 billion antibodies with unprecedented fully-natural CDR diversity you are more likely to find lead antibodies that have optimal bio-physical characteristics. This was exactly what our customers found,” extols Day.
In another similar story that displays the synergy of the AbGenesis and SuperHuman platforms, a customer was looking for in-licensed antibody libraries. Before purchasing they performed discovery campaigns with two different libraries. Using AbGenesis, they were able to precisely determine the original diversity of the libraries and how each performed in response to an antigen. “Before AbGenesis, it was difficult for the customers to get that level of insight into antibody libraries. Having AbGenesis provided the high-fidelity information for them to make an informed decision, which resulted in another SuperHuman license,” explains Day.
Distributed Bio has had a remarkable few years, registering revenue growth that doubles every year. This year, the company has moved out of the JLABS incubator into their own space situated in South San Francisco. “It is a truly incredible story. We’ve gone from a virtual company in 2014, to a single bench in an incubator in 2015, to a 10,000 square foot facility in South San Francisco today. We achieved all of this with no investors, building the entire company on the revenues of products. When you’re building a company without the cushion of venture funding you cannot have the luxury of misinterpreting your market, one misstep could have killed the company,” says Day.
Day envisions a tremendously exciting future for the company. They recently announced an exclusive partnership with Charles River Laboratories to provide antibody discovery services. The collaboration provides discovery partners with a unique end to end experience, coupling Distributed Bio’s unique discovery and engineering platforms with Charles River’s downstream expertise. “The scale and reach of Charles River mean we’ll be able to put SuperHuman antibodies in the hands of more researchers than ever before, which ultimately means more patients will get the therapies they need quicker than we have previously seen,” concludes Day.