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BME Seminars - Andrew GRIFFITHS


Seminar announcement flyer

This Friday, October, 9th 2015, we will have the pleasure of hosting a seminar by Andrew GRIFFITHS, Director of the Biochemistry Laboratory at ESPCI ParisTech. The conference will take place between 1:30 pm and 3 pm at ESPCI ParisTech (10 Rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris) and will be held in lecture theatre Langevin (building N, 2nd floor). The seminar topic will be “Drug discovery and diagnostics: Shifting the 20th century paradigm using protein engineering and microfluidics”.

Over the last 20 years there has been a profound revolution in drug discovery. Historically, the vast majority of drugs were small molecules (typically <1000 Da), which were either natural biomolecules, or molecules made by organic synthesis. However, today, the most rapidly growing class of therapeutic molecules are biologics, which are large biopolymers, most commonly proteins, but also nucleic acids. Total biologics sales in 2011 were 113 billion US$. The most important class of biologics are undoubtedly antibodies, which are large (250,000 Da) proteins. Although the idea of using antibodies as “magic bullets” dates back to the end of the 19th century it is only recently that truly effective antibody therapy has been possible: today, seven of the top ten selling drugs are antibodies, there are more than 30 antibodies approved for therapy and hundreds more in development. I will explain the history of therapeutic antibodies and the commercialisation of the technologies developed in our laboratory in Cambridge via licensing and the creation of start-ups. I will also discuss how the application of physics is set to create a second revolution in drug discovery and diagnostics. In particular, I will focus on the development of droplet-based microfluidic systems, which compartmentalise reactions in droplets. They function like the wells of microtitre plates but have volumes a thousand to a million times smaller. This microfluidic miniaturisation is somewhat analogous to microprocessors, where transistor density has increased by ∼100,000-fold in the past few decades.


Arts et Métiers ParisTech
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Université Paris Descartes
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