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Subspecialties Retina, Business and Innovation, Basic & Translational Research, Diabetes, Health Economics and Policy

Inspiration from Nature

In the latter half of the 1990s, medical science and biotech in particular were asking a big question: “What comes after antibodies?”

Antibodies have a strong and successful history and have diverse uses, including drug targeting, diagnostic and research applications. For a time, antibody utility and availability dissuaded people from looking elsewhere – that was until a certain post-doctoral researcher, Patrik Forrer, a co-founder of Molecular Partners, made an enlightening observation: nature also uses a very different class of proteins to achieve the same goal as antibodies. These so-called repeat proteins ultimately provide an immune system that is independent of antibodies. The reality is that immunity to pathogen infections is provided by different mechanisms in plants and animals – and there are surprising similarities and informative differences between the two.

Nature is continually faced with complex problems, which it addresses with its armory of proteins.

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About the Author

Michael Stumpp

Chief Operating Officer of Molecular Partners, Switzerland

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