UAB outsources its revenue-producing antibodies to the Birmingham company SouthernBiotech

SouthernBiotech, a UAB spinoff from the 1980s, will store and market these valuable research tools.


  • newswise-fullscreen UAB outsources its revenue-producing antibodies to the Birmingham company SouthernBiotech

    Credit: UAB

    Left to right: Deborah Bidanset, senior licensing manager, Harbert Institute; Erica Speegle, chief financial officer, SouthernBiotech; Scott Swindle, licensing associate, Harbert Institute; Charles Lichtman, CEO and board chair, SouthernBiotech; and Elizabeth Robinson, vice president and general manager, SouthernBiotech.

Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a move to maintain revenue and expand opportunities to produce and license new monoclonal antibodies, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has outsourced its selection of marketable monoclonal immunoreagents and hybridomas — the cells that produce monoclonal antibodies — to the Birmingham-based Southern Biotechnology Associates Inc., also known as SouthernBiotech. Monoclonal antibodies are key tools in molecular biology and medicine because of their exquisite ability to bind to specific targets.

“We are hopeful that this partnership will streamline the availability of commercially important tools and can potentially expand our ability to disclose research tools,” Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., said of the agreement with SouthernBiotech. Nugent is executive director of the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or HIIE,

The antibodies and hybridomas have been managed in a UAB core facility for more than three decades. Moving this core repository of research tools — that generates about $750,000 in revenue for the university — to SouthernBiotech will maintain high-quality service and create an opportunity to develop the selection of products.

“SouthernBiotech appreciates this opportunity to partner with UAB and the HIIE, and we look forward to expanding our relationship in the coming years,” said Charles Lichtman, CEO and board chair of SouthernBiotech.

SouthernBiotech is a spinoff from the lab of former UAB immunologist Max Cooper, M.D. Founded in 1982, SouthernBiotech is dedicated to the development, production, purification, conjugation and commercialization of the world’s highest-quality antibodies for research use. The privately owned Oxmoor Valley company employs about 45 people.

Under the agreement, SouthernBiotech will act as the repository for the UAB cell lines, and the HIIE will pay a service and storage fee. SouthernBiotech, in turn, has the right to offer, for research use only, antibodies produced by the UAB cell lines under a royalty-bearing license agreement with UAB.

Full transfer of the cell lines could take a year. SouthernBiotech, one of the world’s oldest antibody companies, operates with the tagline “Quality antibodies for quality research.” The company today has a global network of distributors in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East.

Elizabeth Robinson, vice president and general manager of SouthernBiotech, will be the primary contact for all communications and technical matters between SouthernBiotech and UAB. Chief Financial Officer Erica Speegle, CPA, will be in charge of financial reporting between SouthernBiotech and UAB.

Lichtman says Deborah Bidanset, Ph.D., HIIE senior licensing manager, was point person for initiating and developing the agreement between UAB and SouthernBiotech.

The Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the university technology transfer office and provides the infrastructure for UAB students, staff and faculty to commercialize innovation on campus, within the community and beyond.


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