Fulfilling the promise of antibody drugs

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Expanding the reach of antibodies to previously inaccessible targets

Antibodies are great drugs.

Antibodies have many safety and efficacy advantages as drugs. Seven of the top ten selling drugs are antibodies, bringing in an median of $7B a year each.


Antibodies are hard to find for promising membrane protein targets.

Finding antibodies that can bind GPCRs and ion channels is in itself a difficult task. Of the rare binders, finding antibodies that do more than only block signals is even harder.

We find functional antibodies for tough targets.

We go beyond just blocking signals and find antibodies that activate (agonists), inactivate (inverse agonists), and modulate (allosteric modulators).


New disease treatments made possible.

Abalone's functional antibodies affect cellular function in ways previously unachievable with other antibodies and small molecules, enabling uniquely effective treatments for diseases.


Our Technology:

Hybrid Biological + Computation

Discovery Platform

Biological enrichment

Using Nature's search algorithm- survival of the fittest

Burn the haystack. How do we find "needle in the haystack" rare antibodies? Only the antibodies that we're interested in survive the biological enrichment process.


How? We create libraries of yeast cells expressing billions of antibody variants. We engineer the cells to grow better if they carry an antibody variant that activates or inhibits a drug target of interest expressed in the same cells.

We functionally interrogate up to a billion antibodies for function in a single experiment, orders of magnitude higher throughput than any other method.


Computational hit selection

We follow the evolution of antibody populations to find the best hits, using next-generation DNA sequencing. Computational algorithms select the best hits, and activities are confirmed using human cell-based functional assays.

Functional maturation

Our platform also supercharges traditional antibody hit optimization by directly finding variants that improve function, not just binding affinity. Like conventional "affinity maturation", only better.

It gets better every experiment

With every experiment, we link data on thousands of antibody sequences to cellular functions.


Every experiment helps us attack the next drug target better and faster.


Abalone Bio is a preclinical stage antibody drug company. Using our platform, we are developing antibody drugs for pain, inflammatory diseases, rare cancer, and rare kidney disease.


Management Team


Richard Yu / CEO

Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale (2000)
BA, Molecular Cell Biology & Computer Science, UC Berkeley (1993)

This is Rich’s second startup with Gustavo. His systems and synthetic biology work as an Investigator at The Molecular Sciences Institute (MSI) underlies Abalone's platform and was published in Nature.

Rich also learned a lot about growing successful therapeutics startups as Scientific and Operations Director at MBC Biolabs, San Francisco's leading biotech incubator, and a Principal at Mission Bay Capital.


Gustavo Pesce / CSO

Ph.D., MSc in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Buenos Aires (1996)

After Gustavo did his postdoctoral studies at UCSF in Genetics and Cell Biology, he studied the systems and synthetic biology of signaling pathways as a Sr. Research Fellow at MSI. This work, published in Nature and Molecular Systems Biology, also underlies Abalone’s platform.

Gustavo has experience in industrial biotech and high throughput screening from his time with Amyris and Bolt Threads.

How did the founders meet?

Rich and Gustavo met at Sydney Brenner’s MSI, the birthplace of modern synthetic biology, in 2003, where they spent ten years engineering and studying signal transduction in yeast. This work, published in multiple articles in Nature and MSB, underlies their core technology. Abalone Bio is their second startup in 17 years.

Why this startup?

A timely combination of:

  • Pharma need for drugs that only our platform can find

  • Uniquely appropriate combined technical and startup executive/ops skillsets

  • Convergence of technological advances in synthetic biology, ultra high-throughput DNA sequencing, and machine learning


©2020 by Abalone Bio, Inc.