La Jolla Institute for Immunology acquires Berkeley Lights Beacon® platform

The Beacon optofluidic technology will be used to speed the identification of lifesaving treatments for deadly viruses including Ebola, Lassa and others.

December 9, 2019

LA JOLLA, Calif. and EMERYVILLE, Calif. — La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) is placing their confidence in Berkeley Lights’ Beacon® Optofluidic Platform and B cell antibody discovery workflow to accelerate the discovery of rare and lifesaving antibodies for the treatment of re-emerging and emerging diseases. The Beacon platform will transform the discovery process from a tedious and expensive manual effort into an optimized and largely automated process that takes weeks instead of years.

“We are always battling time, and it’s exciting to add this new technology to our arsenal of cutting-edge tools that are available to LJI researchers,” says Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at La Jolla Institute. “The Beacon platform from Berkeley Lights can screen tens of thousands of antibody-producing B cells to find the best treatment candidates, including when time matters the most—during a fast spreading outbreak of a deadly disease.”

Once therapeutic antibodies are discovered and characterized, they can be produced quickly under GMP conditions. Such antibodies are the fastest route to a treatment for an emerging disease, often called “Disease X” in threat scenarios.

The recently announced Ebola treatments, for example, are based on antibodies that are infused intravenously into the blood providing immediate immunity. Some, known as “neutralizing” antibodies, inactivate the virus by attaching onto the outer shell of viral particles and preventing it from entering cells. Other types of antibodies inspire the immune system to clear remaining virus from the body.

The research and leadership of LJI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., was instrumental in guiding development of such antibodies into treatments to be used the field. Not only did Dr. Saphire determine the three-dimensional structure of the Ebola surface protein recognized by neutralizing antibodies, she also brought together a global coalition including 45 labs over 5 continents to define which therapeutic antibodies effectively combat disease in humans infected with Ebola virus, and why.

"The design of Beacon platform and our plasma B cell antibody discovery workflow are particularly effective for these types of viral neutralization and emerging pathogen therapeutic applications – rapidly finding rare and highly effective antibody therapeutics," says John Proctor, Senior VP of Antibody Therapeutics at Berkeley Lights. "We are thrilled that our technology will support LJI's groundbreaking work to identify human neutralizing antibodies that can treat the deadliest virus outbreaks."

“The Beacon platform paired with ingenious protein chemistry, will facilitate a high-throughput approach to identifying highly potent and rare ‘needle-in-a-haystack’- antibodies that would be ideal biotherapy candidates that have been difficult or impossible to find with previously available technology,” says Dr. Wilson.

Beyond emerging deadly outbreaks, antibodies are also central to biotherapies that treat cancer and autoimmune disease as well as toxins (snakebites), rabies virus and viruses that have made an unexpected comeback such as measles.

About La Jolla Institute for Immunology
The La Jolla Institute for Immunology is dedicated to understanding the intricacies and power of the immune system so that we may apply that knowledge to promote human health and prevent a wide range of diseases. Since its founding in 1988 as an independent, nonprofit research organization, the Institute has made numerous advances leading toward its goal: life without disease.

About Berkeley Lights

Berkeley Lights, Inc. is a company that develops and commercializes workflows and processes to find the best cells. By operating at the intersection of biology, technology, and information, our workflows accelerate the design, discovery, development, and delivery of cell-based products. Our technology platform automates the manipulation, analysis, and selection of individual cells, allowing scalability and deep cell insights. Berkeley Lights enables the rapid deployment of biology for the production of sustainable and scalable sources of food, therapies, and energy. For more information, visit

*The Beacon optofluidic platform is: For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

Media contacts:

La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Gina Kirchweger, Ph.D.


Berkeley Lights

Peggy Vorwald, Ph.D.

CG Life for Berkeley Lights

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