Honorary Research Fellow
I currently lead a team of senior scientists at the University of Aberdeen developing shark single chain domains from initial lead isolation through to clinical candidate identification. Having successfully secured substantial pre-commercialisation funding, the focus is to take the lead VNAR domain, E06 (developed as a bio-tool for half-life extension) into the clinic and to strengthen the pipeline portfolio of oncology and anti-inflammatory products. Prior to setting up this team, I was Head of Shark IgNAR Development in Pfizer and Wyeth where I was responsible for establishing robust platforms for the isolation of these binding domains and progressing pipeline candidates. My first experience of developing shark domains was during my time with the antibody engineering spin-out company, Haptogen, where I was Programmes and Alliance manager. I obtained a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Aberdeen and I am currently completing a MBA at Robert Gordon’s University, Business School.
My research very much focuses on early stage biologic drug development from hit generation through to clinical candidate identification exploiting a naturally occurring single chain binding domain known as VNAR. These domains exist naturally in cartilaginous fish and play a role in the adaptive immune system of these animals. As such they can be isolated against specific disease targets both through immunization and semi-synthetic routes of selection. Their small size, high affinity for target, inherent solubility and stability make them very attractive as clinical drug candidates and the team are currently exploiting these attributes to build a strong pipeline portfolio of products.
The VNAR Development team:
Dr Marina Kovaleva (ex-Pfizer, Wyeth, Haptogen)
Mr John Steven (ex-Pfizer, Wyeth, Haptogen)
Dr Laura Ferguson (ex-Pfizer)
Dr Nachiket Shembekar
Mohammed Al Qaraghuli (BSc)