Fulfilling the promise of antibody drugs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fen Zhang, Ph.D.
Director of Antibody Engineering
Fen leads antibody development and optimization. Fen has over 20 years of hands-on experience on a broad spectrum of projects in antibody discovery (murine and human through hybridoma and single cell cloning), engineering, and manufacturing.
He invented or improved 4 different single B cell molecular cloning techniques, and invented and co-invented two bispecific technologies, one which led to a product in human clinical trials (link).
Fen has also successfully humanized more than 10 murine antibody therapeutic candidates and generated about 30 CHO cells lines producing antibodies beyond 1 g/L.
Stephanie Lopez, Ph.D.
Stephanie leads FAST antibody discovery platform development and mammalian cell assay development.
In her graduate work at UC Berkeley in Danielle Tullman-Ercek’s laboratory, she worked on membrane proteins in S. cerevisiae, specifically analyzing the functional expression of human Acetyl CoA Transporter AT-1 in S. cerevisiae mitochondria, and performed biochemical and biophysical active site characterization of TPO1.
She also has synthetic biology experience in academic and industry settings in engineering and optimizing yeast and numerous bacterial species for production of bio-based chemicals.
Chia-Ching Chou, Ph.D.
Chia-Ching leads FAST platform antibody discovery and affinity and functional maturation, as well as bioinformatics.
In his previous industry experience, he developed a single-cell emulsion phage display technology for antibody discovery and methods for analyzing antibody sequences with next-generation sequencing.
In his graduate and postdoctoral work at Rutgers University in Marc Gartenberg’s laboratory, he studied genome integrity, telomerase regulation, and ribosomal DNA locus cohesion using yeast as a model organism.
Allison Cooke, Ph.D.
Allison spearheads antibody library construction and antibody optimization, production and characterization. She also leads our interactions with collaborators for animal studies.
In her graduate school training at the University of Cincinnati in Sean Davidson’s laboratory, she honed her expertise in protein biochemistry and biophysics and elucidated cardioprotective mechanisms by which proteins package lipids for transport from peripheral tissues to other organs.
Aaron assists scientists in the lab with molecular biology and microbiology experiments, and is a key operations person who helps keep the lab running smoothly.
Aaron is also currently a student at Los Medonas College studying agricultural microbiology.
Luna is an intern from UC Berkeley, majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. She has been working on in vitro and in silico characterization of the solubility and functionality of potential drug candidates at Abalone.
Previously, Luna worked on characterization of the T4 clamp loader mechanism in the Kuriyan lab at UC Berkeley.
Eric is an intern from UC Berkeley where he majors in Chemical Biology. He has been working on simulating the enrichment process and library design at Abalone.
Previously, Eric has been involved in research on kinetics of T cell signaling at Berkeley and on biocompatible nanoparticle engineering at UCSF.
Ben is an intern from UC Santa Cruz where he majors in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. He engineers yeast strains that will be used in the FAST system as well as assists with other microbiology experiments in the lab.
Want to join our team?
Please visit our careers page for information on current openings.