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INNOVATIVE SOFTWARE FROM OXFORD MOLECULAR REDEFINES ANTIBODY DESIGN PROCESS; ABM ALLOWS RESEARCHERS TO PREDICT ANTIBODY 3-D STRUCTURES

INNOVATIVE SOFTWARE FROM OXFORD MOLECULAR REDEFINES ANTIBODY DESIGN
 PROCESS; ABM ALLOWS RESEARCHERS TO PREDICT ANTIBODY 3-D STRUCTURES
 OXFORD, England, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Developing new drugs and diagnostics based on antibodies will now be considerably easier, thanks to an innovative software program launched this week by Oxford Molecular. AbM can:
 -- Accurately predict the 3-D antibody structure from sequence
 -- Reduce modeling time from months to days
 -- Expedite humanization of antibodies for therapeutic use.
 Antibodies, which hold great promise for treating and detecting life-threatening and debilitating diseases such as AIDS, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, have been difficult to model, because it is necessary to know the exact amino acid sequence and three-dimensional shape in order to design an antibody to perform a specific function. Existing tools for protein modeling are not applicable to antibodies: Only part of the antibody looks like a globular protein, and, in general, antibodies are too large to use force field minimizations on the entire structure.
 However, AbM, a novel algorithm developed by Professor Tony Rees at the University of Bath, combines the knowledge base of existing protein structures with computational methods. Compared to traditional modeling techniques, which can take months or years, AbM can model 3-D structures to within medium resolution X-ray crystallographic accuracy in a matter of hours or days starting from sequence.
 "Access to AbM means scientists can model antibodies at significantly lower cost and with greater accuracy than ever before," says Tony Marchington, managing director of Oxford Molecular. Adds Rees, "AbM gives you a 3-D structure -- a working model -- which lets you engineer rational changes to the antibody rather than just shooting in the dark."
 Of particular importance is AbM's impact on humanization studies. At present, it is relatively easy to produce monoclonal antibodies in mice, but their application is limited, since the human body's immune system usually rejects these as foreign proteins. Using AbM, however, scientists have already engineered "humanized" antibody combinations which are less likely to be rejected by the body.
 "AbM represents a major advance for the molecular modeling marketplace," said Marchington. "In the past, computational software focused on small molecular weight drugs and peptides. But AbM opens the research arena to include large antibodies of immense therapeutic and diagnostic importance."
 Contract Research, Consultancy and Training Services
 For companies with limited modeling resources, Oxford Molecular offers contract research and consultancy services, enabling customers to reap the benefits of leading-edge science and technology at a reasonable cost.
 Oxford Molecular also has an optional AbM training course for novice users which will bring them up-to-speed on both software and modeling concepts.
 Company Background
 Oxford Molecular Ltd., an international biotechnology software company, was founded in 1989 by Oxford University's technology transfer unit in partnership with internationally known academics, venture capital investors and chemical industry veterans. The company's main goal is to commercialize state-of-the-art software developed in the world's leading academic research laboratories. Through its collaborations with academia, OM is able to rapidly commercialize its software packages at a highly competitive price for those in the pharmaceutical, biotechnological and agrochemical industries.
 During the last two years, it has established business relationships with Glaxo Group research, British Bio Technology, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Silicon Graphics, Smith Kline Beecham and Toray Systems of Japan.
 Currently, Oxford Molecular is based in Oxford Science Park in the United Kingdom, with branch offices in Palo Alto, Paris and Tokyo.
 -0- 10/8/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Further background and technical information is available in a press kit./
 /CONTACT: Dr. Stefan Unger, president of Oxford Molecular, 415-494-6274/ CO: Oxford Molecular ST: California IN: CPR SU: PDT


GT-JB -- SJ001 -- 7779 10/08/92 11:02 EDT
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Date:Oct 8, 1992
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