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SLAS Discov. 2018 Aug;23(7):613-623. doi: 10.1177/2472555218774334. Epub 2018 May 21.

Flow Cytometry-Based Epitope Binning Using Competitive Binding Profiles for the Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies against Cellular and Soluble Protein Targets.

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1 Amgen Discovery Research, Burnaby, BC, Canada.


A key step in the therapeutic antibody drug discovery process is early identification of diverse candidate molecules. Information comparing antibody binding epitopes can be used to classify antibodies within a large panel, guiding rational lead molecule selection. We describe a novel epitope binning method utilizing high-throughput flow cytometry (HTFC) that leverages cellular barcoding or spectrally distinct beads to multiplex samples to characterize antibodies raised against cell membrane receptor or soluble protein targets. With no requirement for sample purification or direct labeling, the method is suited for early characterization of antibody candidates. This method generates competitive binding profiles of each antibody against a defined set of known or unknown reference antibodies for binding to epitopes of an antigen. Antibodies with closely related competitive binding profiles indicate similar epitopes and are classified in the same bin. These large, high-throughput, multiplexed experiments can yield epitope bins or clusters for the entire antibody panel, from which a conceptual map of the epitope space for each antibody can be created. Combining this valuable epitope information with other data, such as functional activity, sequence, and selectivity of binding to orthologs and paralogs, enables us to advance the best epitope-diverse candidates for further development.


antibody characterization; epitope binning; flow cytometry; high-throughput screening; multiplex


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