How epitope mapping at Pepscan became a way to identify a disease’s Achilles’ heel

Hans Langedijk on dedication and persistence in scientific research

“First, we need to understand a disease before we can take the step towards discovery and development of a treatment. To gain functional understanding of the disease mechanisms of pathogens, such as viruses, a lot of data is needed. And that’s exactly what the Pepscan epitope mapping method has to offer,” says Hans Langedijk, former Senior Scientist and Project Leader at Pepscan.

After receiving his master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Amsterdam, Langedijk joined Rob Meloen’s research group in 1993 at the Central Veterinary Institute (CDI) in Lelystad. “In the early days there was barely any information available for the infectious disease-causing agents’ structures that CDI was focusing on. Therefore, we spent a lot of time reconstructing viral surfaces based on crude structural models. By applying the Pepscan method, we were able to map the antibody binding site (or epitope) of a viral target protein. I was fascinated by this simple and fast way to find the antibody binding site, which many considered the disease’s Achilles’ heel. While it was rewarding in the end, it took a lot of dedication and persistence to get there.”

Different disease areas bringing new insights

In 2002, Langedijk joined Meloen’s company Pepscan to focus on the development of monoclonal antibodies and to coordinate external projects. “As increasing numbers of people became aware of the Pepscan method, also called epitope mapping, we got the opportunity to join several pan-European projects funded by the EU. Besides it being very inspiring to meet all these different research groups, it was also the perfect opportunity to learn about the outcomes of applying our technology in different disease areas.” Mapping new targets provided insights into different binding mechanisms and consequently a better understanding of the differences and similarities between diseases.

Dedication and persistence paid off

“It is amazing to see the amount of data this technology has generated, and still does, and how this led to significant insights into understanding disease mechanisms and potential treatment options.” Over the years, Pepscan has continuously improved the technology. By incorporating its proprietary CLIPS™ peptides, Pepscan enables the 3D spatial conformation of both conformational and discontinuous epitopes to be addressed. “All our efforts, dedication and persistence substantially contributed to evolving the Pepscan epitope mapping method into the robust tool that it is today.”

Want to know more about how Pepscan could support your projects? Reach out to our specialist, Dennis Flierman, Director Epitope Mapping.

About Hans Langedijk

After studying chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, Hans Langedijk joined Rob Meloen’s research group in 1993. In 2002, he joined Meloen again at Pepscan, where he was a senior scientist and project leader responsible for the development of monoclonal antibodies and coordinating Pepscan’s work with European projects. In 2011, Langedijk joined the Leiden-based company Crucell, which became part of Janssen Pharmaceuticals as Janssen Vaccines. Langedijk is director of the vaccine design team, and was part of the development of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

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