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News & Insights

Dr. John Kenney

Dr. John Kenney

Author of more than 40 publications, John’s current research interests include new technologies for improving therapeutic antibody discovery, properties of next-generation antibody-like molecules, and best practices for critical reagents used in biologics development.

Recent posts by Dr. John Kenney

13 min read

Taking Aim with Antibody-Drug Conjugates

By Dr. John Kenney on 06/28/2022

In 1902, the French filmmaker George Mèliés fascinated audiences with his film, Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). One of the film's iconic images is of the moon struck by a rocket carrying men from earth (shown above). A few years later in 1907, German Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich conceived the idea of a Zauberkugel or “magic bullet” that could selectively target a disease organism. While these concepts might have been considered science fiction at the time, both have become a reality. Man has been to the moon many times. Ehrlich’s vision of a magic bullet has been realized by the development of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) which enable selective delivery of cytotoxic drugs to disease targets. In this post, we’ll look at the therapeutic opportunities offered by ADCs.

The makings of an effective ADC – an antibody-based therapy that targets cancer-causing cells – require a carefully balanced combination of an antibody to the target, a cytotoxic drug, and a linker connecting the two. The known properties and guiding design principles of effective ADC therapy are under almost constant reevaluation, and recent findings suggest this trend will continue. In this post, we describe recent advancements and lessons learned from this emerging class of biologic.

Topics: Insights ADC Antibody-Drug Conjugate
3 min read

Looking Back on Omicron: Checking our predictions against recent reports

By Dr. John Kenney on 02/16/2022

When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first identified, we applied our molecular modeling methods to assess how this new variant would impact the ongoing pandemic. Since we published our initial findings, the ubiquitous nature of Omicron infections, coupled with the publications of several excellent studies, has compelled us to update our last entry on the subject. These new studies may help us make sense of the current situation while possibly predicting where we are headed, keeping in mind that this update is not intended to be comprehensive. 

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 Omicron
7 min read

Modeling the Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Mutations

By Dr. John Kenney on 12/16/2021

On November 24, 2021, South Africa reported the identification of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529, to the World Health Organization (WHO). On November 26, 2021, the WHO designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (VOC) named Omicron. This new variant features a number of concerning spike protein mutations. As illustrated below, these key mutations, also found in earlier variants, are present at or near sites regulating virus infectivity. In addition, Omicron displays a surprising number of new mutations. Of special interest are mutations occurring in the RBD and S1/S2 domain. The RBD is important for binding to cells, and the S1/S2 is important for processing the virus to enable entry into the cells.

Topics: Insights SARS-CoV-2 Omicron
5 min read

The Delta Variant Furin Domain Mutation Favors Greater Infectivity

By Dr. John Kenney on 10/07/2021

The Delta variant has quickly become the predominant strain of SARS-CoV-2. Based on molecular modeling studies, Antibody Solutions was one of the first to propose that the earliest variant, D614G, was more transmissible by promoting furin processing, a key step in virus infection. Consistent with our modeling results, it was later found that a spike protein construct containing the G614 mutation was more susceptible to S1/S2 cleavage by furin. Subsequent SARS-CoV-2 variants have continued to possess the D614G mutation, including the two variants of greatest concern today: Alpha and Delta.

Topics: Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling antibody discovery COVID-19
1 min read

Original Research: Targeting Three Spike Protein Domains Regulating SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity

By Dr. John Kenney on 05/24/2021

Like our research colleagues across the entire global scientific community, our team here at Antibody Solutions continues to further delve into the complexities of SARS-CoV-2 and its mutations in hopes of further illuminating potential paths for additional discovery work. We presented our most recent findings during the 2021 PEGS Boston Virtual Conference & Expo.

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
7 min read

Animals are Still Vital for Antibody Discovery

By Dr. John Kenney on 04/05/2021

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that major biological threats can emerge seemingly out of nowhere, causing death and disruption on a global scale. We watched the international scientific community combine all its forces to quickly and effectively mount a response to the novel biological threat of SARS-CoV-2. Key to that response was the immunization of animals, enabling the generation of reagent and therapeutic antibodies as well as development of vaccines. It was an accelerated, and very public, demonstration of the power of in vivo antibody generation that has been applied to discover therapies for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other ailments.

Topics: Insights antibody discovery
2 min read

Modeling the Impact of the UK and South African Strain Mutations

By Dr. John Kenney on 02/09/2021

Mutations Found in the South African and UK COVID-19 Virus Strains Improve the Stability of the ACE2-Spike RBD Complex

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
1 min read

Original Research: Generating Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Sites

By Dr. John Kenney on 01/19/2021

As we’ve noted in some recent blog posts (here and here, for instance), our team at Antibody Solutions is joining the global scientific community in the collective fight against SARS-CoV-2 and its mutations. That includes both research conducted on behalf of our clients and our own discoveries. 

Topics: News Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
2 min read

The UK Strain and Other Recent RBD Mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Virus

By Dr. John Kenney on 12/22/2020

Examining mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) Protein Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) at the ACE2 receptor S protein interface

Topics: News Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
5 min read

COVID-19 Targets, Tools and Therapeutics (Part 2)

By Dr. John Kenney on 12/15/2020

Antibody Solutions is doing its part to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including original research, tool discovery, and participation in in-house and client-sponsored discovery programs. In this new blog series, we examine questions such as: What are the potential targets to treat COVID-19 and its sequelae, and what are the strategies and tools to discover drugs to treat the disease?

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling Transgenic Animals COVID-19
3 min read

COVID-19 Targets, Tools and Therapeutics (Part 1)

By Dr. John Kenney on 10/14/2020

Antibody Solutions is doing its part to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including original research, tool discovery, and participation in in-house and client-sponsored discovery programs. In this new blog series, we examine questions such as: What are the potential targets to treat COVID-19 and its sequelae, and what are the strategies and tools to discover drugs to treat the disease?

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
6 min read

News Release: Study Identifies Potential COVID Vaccine & Therapy Research Pathways

By Dr. John Kenney on 06/17/2020

Conformational change of the spike protein furin cleavage domain may enhance virus infectivity

June 16, 2020 (Santa Clara, Calif.) — Research by two U.S.-based antibody discovery companies shows a rise and dominance of a mutant SARS-CoV-2 virus and identifies a new mechanism predicting a competitive advantage of the mutation. The mutation is predicted to induce a structural change in the spike protein of the virus that would enhance virus entry. The study, conducted by Antibody Solutions and Single Cell Technology (SCT), is available on Preprints.org (the study’s findings have not yet been peer-reviewed).

Topics: News Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
7 min read

Original Research: Joint effort finds advantages conferred by a D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein

By Dr. John Kenney on 06/05/2020

It’s not often that small biotechnology companies pursue basic research into disease mechanisms. However, the serious impact of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak on our families, friends, and community has prompted us to seek solutions for solving the COVID-19 pandemic. At Antibody Solutions (AS) and Single Cell Technology (SCT), we sought answers to the nature of the virus infection using our tools at hand.

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 Molecuar Modeling COVID-19
5 min read

Antibody Solutions & the COVID-19 Crisis

By Dr. John Kenney on 04/19/2020

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're thankful to be holding true to the potential we outlined in this original April 19 blog post. As part of a collaboration with Single Cell Technology, we've discovered a potential new path for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and therapy research. We've published our findings in a new paper, and you can get an overview here (as well as a link to the complete research document).


 

“It must be noted, however, that a single product is unlikely to meet the currently very substantial medical need, and not all product candidates will be successful in clinical studies. Therefore, many initiatives aimed at developing investigational antibodies are needed.”

— Dr. Janice Reichert, executive director, The Antibody Society

Where We Stand Now: The bottom line up-front

It’s probably safe to assume that—for all the wrong reasons—”coronavirus” will be Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2020. 

Topics: Insights Covid SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic monoclonal antibodies Therapeutic Targets COVID-19
1 min read

Antibody Solutions COVID-19 Update #2

By Dr. John Kenney on 04/02/2020

UPDATED 4/2/2020

On March 31, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom extended the statewide shelter-in-place order through May 3, 2020. Additional restrictions designed to help protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic also were imposed.

Consistent with the March 19 order, this order considers life science companies such as Antibody Solutions to be “essential,” meaning we are exempt from many restrictions imposed on other businesses and can continue our operations. As specified in this order, we are preparing an updated document formalizing the social distancing protocol we had implemented in accordance with the first order.

Topics: News Covid COVID-19
1 min read

Antibody Solutions COVID-19 Update #1

By Dr. John Kenney on 03/17/2020

UPDATED 3/20/2020

On March 19, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced statewide requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These required actions in this order align with the Santa Clara County shelter-in-place orders released earlier this week and have not imposed any additional restrictions on Antibody Solutions operations. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates, as necessary.  

On March 16, 2020, the Public Health Department of Santa Clara County, California, along with five other San Francisco Bay Area counties, issued a shelter-in-place order for all county residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes us here at Antibody Solutions.

Topics: News Covid COVID-19
3 min read

Come Together, Right Now—For What Could Be

By Dr. John Kenney on 02/06/2020

Antibody Solutions’ Grand Opening Celebration | 01.30.20

From sparkling selfies and twirling mobiles of antibodies to insightful speeches, facility tours and tasty tacos, Antibody Solutions’ Grand Opening celebration last week had a little bit of everything. And we couldn’t be prouder!(*)

More than 125 treasured clients, partners and their families came together for what could be--and was—an evening of fun, festivity and friendship. We held the event to commemorate both our new 33,300-square-foot facility in Santa Clara, Calif., and the kickoff to our Silver Anniversary. The theme for our event was “25 Years of Revealing the Future,” and it was especially wonderful to welcome many guests who’ve been with us through the decades. 

Topics: News 25th Anniversary
1 min read

Webinar: “Using Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) for B-Cell Isolation”

By Dr. John Kenney on 11/13/2019

Isolating B cells can be a challenging exercise requiring careful planning, precise execution and the right technology. Over the years, the best method that we’ve found to help streamline and improve the efficiency and success of the process is Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). 

Topics: Insights
5 min read

Connecting the Dots: Discovery On Target 2019 Wrap-Up

By Dr. John Kenney on 10/18/2019

After a couple weeks of tackling the tsunami of emails, meetings and project updates that greeted me after my two-week “conference marathon” in Boston last month, here is a summary of Discovery on Target 2019. And, like the CAR-TCR Summit the week before, this year’s DOT (#17 in the series) offered a wide range of useful and interesting updates on the latest in antibody research.

Topics: Insights
3 min read

Already Strong & Gaining Momentum: CAR-TCR Summit 2019 Wrap-Up

By Dr. John Kenney on 10/17/2019

You know, it’s true -- there’s no place like home (especially Antibody Solutions’ new home in Santa Clara, California). At the same time, though, I probably would have stayed another week in Boston had there been a third conference that was as chock full of engaging presentations, intriguing research and useful data (plus some very stimulating hallway conversations) as the two back-to-back conferences I attended earlier this month: CAR-TCR Summit 2019 and Discovery on Target 2019.  

Topics: Insights
5 min read

CAR-T Cell Therapy 101

By Dr. John Kenney on 08/29/2019

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapy

A growing number of CAR-T cell therapies are being developed and tested in clinical studies as an innovative approach to reprogram the patient’s immune system to attack its own abnormal cells. For treatment of certain cancers, as well as other diseases, this is a huge leap forward. 

Topics: Insights
3 min read

Climbing for a Crucial Cause - Part 3

By Dr. John Kenney on 08/14/2019

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final post in a series on Dr. Oren Beske of ATUM and his climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro in support of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In an effort to avoid spoiling his inspiring last installment, we’ll just invite you to catch up on Oren’s first and second posts and then jump right in below.

Our thanks and congratulations to Oren and to all of you for supporting this terrific initiative! 

John Kenney

Co-Founder and CEO, Antibody Solutions

Topics: Insights
4 min read

Climbing for a Crucial Cause - Part 2

By Dr. John Kenney on 07/15/2019

Editor’s Note: Here’s the second installment in a blog post series we’re excited to present in conjunction with our friend and colleague Dr. Oren Beske of ATUM. If you missed Oren’s first post on his climb to help the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, you can read it here.

Thanks for continuing this journey with us. Onward and, more importantly, upward!

John Kenney

Co-Founder and CEO, Antibody Solutions

Topics: Insights
3 min read

Climbing for a Crucial Cause

By Dr. John Kenney on 06/28/2019

Editor’s Note: We’re proud to present our first in a series of reflections from our friend and colleague, Dr. Oren Beske of ATUM. We think you’ll find the journey he’s on—one that’s both acutely personal yet wholly universal—to be inspiring and thought-provoking. At Antibody Solutions, we share the end goal of our oncology drug development partners and clients: To extend the quality and quantity of life for cancer patients, and, once and for all, to pitch cancer headfirst into the dustbin of medical history. We salute Oren and all those supporting the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (or, in shorthand, “Fred Hutch”). Climb well! 

Topics: Insights
2 min read

Expanded Partnership Offers Antibody Solutions Clients Access to the Transgenic H2L2 Harbour Mice™ Platform

By Dr. John Kenney on 05/16/2019

  

Agreement Provides for Easy Access to the Transgenic H2L2 Harbour Mice™ Platform with Antibody Solutions’ Discovery and Development Services

Topics: News Transgenic Animals transgenic H2L2 mice Harbour
2 min read

A New Way to Solve Problematic Rat IgG Purification

By Dr. John Kenney on 05/10/2019


When you think about the rat IgG production and purification process (especially IgG2a), what words often come to mind? If you’re like most researchers, it’s probably a combination of these: frustration, missed timelines, low purity, and poor recovery.

Topics: Insights Transgenic Animals Monoclonal therapeutic monoclonal antibodies OmniRat igG MAbExpress IgG purification
3 min read

PEGS  Boston 2019 Takeaways

By Dr. John Kenney on 04/24/2019

What do you get when you inject 2,600 participants into more than 400 sessions, 300-plus research posters and more than 150 exhibitors and then put ‘em all next to Boston Harbor for a week?

Topics: Insights
2 min read

Keystone Joint Symposia Wrap-Up: A “Two-for-One” Win

By Dr. John Kenney on 03/07/2019

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to attend the “Keystone Joint Symposia” event in Keystone, Colo. (and yes, it was much colder than at Antibody Solutions’ headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.!).The speakers during the sessions had two primary goals: (1) to present the most recent advances in the biology of T cell-dependent B cell responses; and (2) to explore how our understanding of B-T cell interactions influence antibody generation and inform vaccine development.

Topics: Insights
1 min read

Success Rate of Different Antibody Platforms for Drug Discovery

By Dr. John Kenney on 03/07/2019

We are occasionally asked about the success rate of different antibody platforms for drug discovery. There are a variety of technologies available for therapeutic antibody discovery: conventional mice where the Abs are humanized, human Ab transgenic rodents, human Ab synthetic phage and yeast libraries, and others.

Topics: Insights