A rapid cell-free expression and screening platform for antibody discovery

Andrew C. Hunt, Bastian Vögeli, Ahmed O. Hassan, Laura Guerrero, Weston Kightlinger, Danielle J. Yoesep, Antje Krüger, Madison DeWinter, Michael S. Diamond, Ashty S. Karim, Michael C. Jewett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antibody discovery is bottlenecked by the individual expression and evaluation of antigen-specific hits. Here, we address this bottleneck by developing a workflow combining cell-free DNA template generation, cell-free protein synthesis, and binding measurements of antibody fragments in a process that takes hours rather than weeks. We apply this workflow to evaluate 135 previously published antibodies targeting the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), including all 8 antibodies previously granted emergency use authorization for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and demonstrate identification of the most potent antibodies. We also evaluate 119 anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from a mouse immunized with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and identify neutralizing antibody candidates, including the antibody SC2-3, which binds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein of all tested variants of concern. We expect that our cell-free workflow will accelerate the discovery and characterization of antibodies for future pandemics and for research, diagnostic, and therapeutic applications more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3897
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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