September 24 is World Cancer Research Day, a time for patients, caregivers and companies on the forefront of cancer R&D to look back and look ahead. From cancer immunotherapy to precision medicine and the discovery of novel targets and mutations, there is much hope on the horizon, and BioSpace spoke with a few of the people leading this innovative research.


Entrenched in sunny Biotech Bay, GigaGen is leveraging its single-cell technology, Surge, to capture and recreate complete antibody repertoires to discover new targets and novel, rare monoclonal antibodies with unique anti-cancer profiles.

“The method that we have allows us to go really deep into discovery of novel antibodies,” said GigaGen Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Dr. David S. Johnson.

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“One of the reasons we perform single-cell approaches is they allow us to pick up subtle differences that would be missed with more conventional tools,” says David S. Johnson, PhD, CEO and co-founder of GigaGen, a company that specializes in microfluidics and molecular genomics. Two GigaGen platforms, Surge and Magnify, can facilitate the development of polyclonal antibody therapies for transplant rejection, infectious diseases, and immunodeficiency disorders. The platforms can also help identify monoclonal antibody leads for checkpoint-resistant cancers.

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GigaGen Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of novel antibody therapies, has published a study in collaboration with authors from a leading antibody drug developer that sheds new light on methods for increasing the success of antibody discovery in mice. The study, “A natively paired antibody library yields drug leads with higher sensitivity and specificity than a randomly paired antibody library,” is available online and will appear in the upcoming issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal mAbs.

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GigaGen Inc., a biotechnology company advancing transformative antibody drugs for infectious diseases, transplant rejection and checkpoint resistant cancers, and a subsidiary of Grifols, announced today publication of research, titled, “Generation of recombinant hyperimmune globulins from diverse B cell repertoires,” in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biotechnology. The data describes GigaGen’s proprietary technology for the production of a new class of antibody drug, “recombinant hyperimmune globulins,” which include its novel COVID-19 therapy, GIGA-2050. This program recently received an Investigational New Drug (IND) approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial. A previous version of the data was made available through bioRxiv.

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Antibodies have been used since the late 1980s as therapies to treat serious diseases, and demand is soaring to new heights today. However, conventional antibody drug discovery technologies are labor-intensive and slow. Pharmaceutical companies select drug candidates from just a small fraction of the antibodies that exist in a natural immune repertoire and have limited information on which candidates are the most promising. Additionally, identification and selection of drug targets remain an arduous process because conventional approaches to studying the immune system are not comprehensive. GigaGen Inc., based in South San Francisco, CA, has developed a unique insight into immune dysregulation through a proprietary technology known as Surge – a platform that quickly characterizes every cell in complex immune systems so that natural immune repertoires can be translated into medical treatments. The technology powers selection of drug targets, identification of drug candidates, and preclinical assessment of efficacy. GigaGen is using their insight into how the immune system functions to discover and develop drugs that solve disorders of immune dysregulation, including cancer and immune deficiency.

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Antibodies from blood donated by people who recovered from the illness and hyper-immunoglobulins are becoming treatments of choice for COVID-19, with recombinant polyclonal antibody approaches to follow.

GigaGen, which is backed by Grifols, is a more recent arrival, and its cell-based recombinant polyclonal immunoglobulin production system is at an earlier stage of development. It involves capturing on a microfluidics platform the complete B-cell populations of five to ten people who have recovered COVID-19 and mounted a robust immune response to the virus. The associated antibody-encoding genes are then transferred into a mammalian cell line.

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Big Picture, Big Rewards – David Johnson, Ph.D., locks up his bicycle after a harrowing ride navigating hills and traffic to make his way to South San Francisco, Calif., the birthplace of biotechnology. It’s how he gets to and from work at GigaGen, a company he founded in 2010 to translate his research in single cell genomics into novel therapies for patients in need.