Spotlight: Q&A with Ian Chan, CEO & Founder, Abpro

About Abpro
Abpro is an integrated life science company focused on industrial biochemistry. Through its DiversImmune™ platform, Abpro leverages synthetic biology and immunology to create novel biomolecules for use in research, diagnostics, animal health and therapeutics. Abpro’s platform has been validated by major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic labs around the world.

What was your inspiration for founding Abpro?

We wanted to save the time required to generate basic biomolecules, so that life science research can be accelerated so that treatments can be developed faster. We had been end-users of biomolecules before and many times you are just waiting around for several months for biomolecules before research can even be started.

Tell us about Abpro’s proprietary DiversImmune™ Platform.

Historically, generating biomolecules takes a very long time – from months to years. This is because it requires teams of highly skilled scientists working to find the exact conditions to generate each biomolecule one step at a time. The DiversImmune platform replaces the previously labor intensive steps with technology so that the entire process can be accelerated. Traditionally, antibodies can take up to twelve months to make, for example. With our platform, we have been able to reduce this to less than two months. We leverage massively parallel processes so that multiple steps can be run at the same time. We call this process industrial biochemistry because it replaces manual work with the latest technologies in immunology, next-generation sequencing and engineering.

Why do we hear “more shots on goal” with the Abpro platform?

Our platform allows scientists to design new products by allowing the rapid study of genes. Our Diversimmune platform allows the byproducts from the genes to be quickly created and studied so that new products can be created. Our platform creates “more shots on goal” since we are able to very rapidly create the test products that meet targeted endpoints.

What is synthetic biology, sounds like a contradiction in terms?

Synthetic biology is an application of engineering concepts on a broad scale to understand the complex world of biology in a more simple way. It allows biology to be used deliberately to create novel products.

What are the advantages of using Abpro antibodies?

In addition to more shots on goal, our platform creates biomolecules that are similar to the ones create in nature. For example, in the case of antibodies, these generally have characteristics such as high binding, specificity and functionality. Our biomolecules, especially monoclonal antibodies, are engineered to be as close to the ones you would find in Nature as possible. These natural characteristics make them very appealing since they generally contain fewer side effects compared to artificially-made antibodies. Additionally, our platform is also much faster than competitive approaches.

Who are your current partners? Can you drop some names?

Some of our partners include Amgen, Genzyme, Merck, Pfizer and others. In addition, Abpro has collaborated with several academic research centers, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University and leading academic medical centers to include Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What do you look for in your partners?

We generally look for partners that are at the forefront of research that have a track record of developing products that have the ability to improve living health, in the research, diagnostics and therapeutics industries. Our partners are global at this point and we are fortunate that they include some of the largest and most successful companies in the industry, such as top academic and research centers and Fortune 100 companies.

You’re often cited as a pioneer in industrial biochemistry. Would you please elaborate?

Industrial biochemistry is the application of synthetic biology and immunology to the life sciences industry so that novel products and treatments can be brought to patients faster. We focus the power of synthetic biology on the life sciences industry.

It sounds like your platform is giving Mother Nature an assist?

Immuno-oncology is the fastest-growing category of mAb therapeutics entering clinical studies today and represent tremendous potential. These treatments stimulate Nature’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Immuno-oncology treatments have broad implications for treating disease:

  • We can create molecules that treat disease the way our natural immune system intended to, with better efficacy and lower side effects
  • New therapies can be created that were previously not available against diseases such as cancer

What are some of the goals you hope to achieve at Abpro? Your vision for the future?

Our vision is to be able to help usher in an era powered by biology with novel products that are developed faster and can benefit mankind. Biology is relevant in all aspects of society. By being able to understand biology faster, we can design new products and bring them to market in an accelerated manner. This includes treating disease, such as cancer, at a new level with cutting edge products.

Any final words?

We are excited about the current trends using antibodies to treat disease. There is real progress being made to help patients. We look forward to continuing to play a major role in the industry and helping our partners not only accelerate their research but to bring novel products that can improve living health to market.