MedImmune, the biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, is collaborating with Tetragenetics to advance its antibody drug discovery research. The companies will use SionX™, Tetragenetics’ ion channel production technology, to produce up to five ion channel antigens for MedImmune’s antibody drug discovery programs. 

The SionX technology enables high density expression of recombinant human ion channels on the cell membranes of Tetrahymena thermophila. According to the company, ion channels are challenging to express in standard cell lines and the low level of expression has made generation of antibodies against ion channels difficult.

“Ion channels represent a diverse family of proteins, which have significant linkage to disease,” said Herren Wu, vice president, R&D, global head of antibody discovery and protein engineering, MedImmune.  “Isolating functional antibodies against these ion channel targets opens the possibility of developing therapeutic antibodies against this important target class, particularly when combining MedImmune’s antibody discovery capabilities to the technology.”

This isn’t the first agreement Tetragenetics has made with a major player. In April 2013, Pfizer entered into a collaboration agreement with the company to utilize the SionX technology.