Project Description

For forty years, biological research has relied on monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to detect biomolecules within basic life science research. Without them, detection of disease-state biomarkers would be impossible and indeed, much fundamental life science research is absolutely dependent on mAbs. Unfortunately, it has become more and more evident that many mAbs are not nearly as specific as presumed, many mAbs are very poorly  haracterized and their production is based on unstable cell lines. In fact, about half of commercial reagent mAbs have been shown to not function correctly.
Predictive Antibody Replacement Technology (Pre-ART) will create a foundational new technology platform to fully replace conventional antibody technology. In a multidisciplinary approach combining basic science, protein engineering and computational prediction, Pre-ART will generate non-antibody components which can be combined in an entirely modular fashion to create molecules that bind any peptide of choice. Such a biotechnological revolution is timely and much needed due to current failings in the reagent antibody market.


By combining information science with directed evolution, Pre-ART will ultimately create an encyclopedia of pre-designed and experimentally pre-selected modules (like biological Lego bricks) that may be combined, without any further experiment, to generate unique binding molecules that function as antibody replacements. This is akin to creating a complementary strand to a peptide built from a modular protein, which is conceptually analogous to the complementary strand in DNA. Because of this modularity, this project will go far beyond present-day antibody or scaffold library technologies. Pre-ART`s vision is to replace mAbs for many applications in biological research over the course of a decade with these designer molecules: Ultimately, the customer will request a binder to recognize the amino acid sequence of a target molecule, and the reagent that can detect this target molecule will be simply assembled from pre-existing modules. Such technology has the potential to completely disrupt the industry which is selling low-quality commercial reagent antibodies, and thus creating a major new technology for biological research with great economic potential.
Thus, Pre-ART will contribute not only to the health and wellbeing of the EU citizen through improved diagnostic capability, but eventually also to the economy of the EU through the development of a myriad of detection products enabled by this platform technology. Pre-ART will achieve this goal by bringing together three leading interdisciplinary labs, two of which are lead by women PIs, whose joint efforts will solve one of the most challenging problems in modern protein design.

Source: YouTube/EU GrantsAccess

Project Details

University of Zurich, CH
University of Zurich, CH
Aston University, UK
University of Bayreuth, DE
Prof. Dr. Andreas Plückthun
48 months
192.000 euro
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Funding Programme: 
  • H2020-FETOPEN