Inhibrx: A gBlocks® Gene Fragment Story
Founded in the spring of 2010, Inhibrx is a biotherapeutic discovery and development company. Through use of a variety of antibody generation and optimization technologies developed in-house, the Inhibrx scientists can generate highly optimized therapeutic molecules/leads that target various steps in specific oncological and inflammatory disease pathways.
We spoke to Brendan Eckelman, founder, and vice president of scientific operations at Inhibrx, about their use of IDT gBlocks® Gene Fragments. Inhibrx researchers use gBlocks fragments as a fast, inexpensive alternative to cloning target molecules from cDNA libraries or commercial synthesis. The researchers have assembled up to 4 overlapping gBlocks Gene Fragments in a single PCR to create 1800 bp gene constructs. More frequently, though, they are using gBlocks fragments to make smaller constructs. For example, they use the synthetic gene fragments to synthesize antibody variable regions. Each variable domain is comprised of about 110 amino acids, and thus encoded by just 330 bp. These regions can be generated by inserting a single gBlocks Gene Fragment into an Inhibrx antibody expression construct.
Eckelman noted, “gBlocks Gene Fragments have become particularly useful for Inhibrx in our antibody humanization platform. Our researchers use a structural modeling approach that then requires generation of 10−20 variant heavy and light chain sequences for expression in mammalian systems (Figure 1). Figure 1. Structural Model of an Antibody VH VL Complex.
There are no templates in these cases, so use of gBlocks Gene Fragments provides a unique solution that has greatly augmented the efficiency of this project. Overall the gBlocks technology is a very suitable and less expensive alternative to gene synthesis, and often it is more efficient than cloning from cDNA.”
Another application of gBlocks fragments for Inhibrx scientists is the generation of cognate antigens from various species. Frequently, the antigen of interest is not well represented in cDNA libraries from a particular species or the cDNA is not readily available. The gBlocks technology allows the Inhibrx scientists to just create the sequence they need and rapidly clone it into one of their expression vectors.
Brendan Eckelman, PhD, a founder of Inhibrx, is vice president of Scientific Operations. Dr Eckelman has substantial drug development experience with specific expertise in protease biochemistry, cell death signaling pathways, and protein engineering. He pioneered the development of the Inhibrx VAST-mAb™ platform and numerous other antibody development, engineering, and optimization technologies. His research interests surround creating novel methods for immune recruitment and activation for cancer therapy. In addition, he has established a unique bifunctional biologics platform aimed at inflammatory disease treatment. Prior to founding Inhibrx, Dr Eckleman was a research investigator in the biotherapeutics group at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). Dr Eckleman received his PhD in molecular pathology from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and conducted his graduate research at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.
IDT Product Focus: gBlocks® Gene Fragments
gBlocks® Gene Fragments are double-stranded, sequence-verified genomic blocks from 125 to 750 bp in length that can be shipped in 4–7 working days for affordable and easy gene construction or modification. gBlocks fragments are synthesized using the same industry-leading, high fidelity synthesis chemistries developed by IDT for Ultramer® Oligonucleotides, and are sequence verified prior to shipping. Using the isothermal assembly method, four gBlocks fragments can be assembled into a 2 kb gene in less than 1 hour; a simple, 30 nt sequence overlap is required when designing the gene fragments.
Learn more about gBlocks Gene Fragments at www.idtdna.com/gblocks.
Author: Ellen Prediger, PhD, is the Director of Scientific Communication at IDT.
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