How alternative technologies may be key in future research methods

Michael Vinegrad

Oct 30, 2014

Following the publication of the human genome it was assumed that life science research for health and disease was a fait accompli, with personalised medicine and a complete understanding of basic biology on the near horizon. Yet this hasn’t quite materialised. Despite definite advances in the life science field, being able to pinpoint and manipulate exact cellular mechanisms often remains a challenge.

Whilst an understanding of the cellular blueprint is important, it is proteins that form the functional unit of the cell. So, to increase our understanding and knowledge an appreciation of the expression and function of the cellular proteins is crucial. This was the basis for the development of Affimers by Avacta Life Sciences- to create a research tool, which lacked the drawbacks associated with traditional antibodies, that could aid researchers in investigating the proteome. Having spun-out of Leeds University, Avacta Life Sciences was perfectly placed to understand the challenges researchers face using the array of traditional affinity tools available.

Affimers are engineered affinity proteins with high specificity and affinities similar to those of research antibodies, yet offer distinct advantages, such as their rapid generation times, production entirely in vitro and small size. These benefits offer dramatic reductions in research timescales and open up new areas of drug discovery in both industry and academia, where previously antibodies have failed. Their small size allow increased densities of affinity reagent to be used in assays and may prove useful for penetrating cells and tissues for applications such as labelling in live cell imaging. Affimers have also been designed to act as a direct replacement for antibodies with no change to protocol. The research community has achieved incredible insights and expanded our knowledge using traditional antibody reagents, but the development of new technologies like Affimers will hopefully inspire exciting new avenues of research.

The potential for this novel technology has been recognised by our investors and with the call for the next generation of affinity reagents having long been unanswered, it seems that it may now be time for innovation in research reagents to provide the required step-change to progress the proteomics research arena.
For more information on Affimers visit