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The BDI's Biorecognition research focuses on the production of diverse antibody libraries against clinically relevant biomarkers of disease (e.g. cardiac disease; inflammation; prostate, colon and pancreatic cancer), food and environmental toxins, pathogens (e.g. listeria), and drugs. The programme involves the development and optimisation of a fully automated protocol for antibody screening and selection including the full characterisation and immunoassay performance of selected antibodies. In addition, genetic engineering techniques are utilised to further enhance the specificity and sensitivity of the antibodies and fragments. These optimised antibodies are integrated with developments from other BDI programmes to yield the extremely high levels of performance required for Point of Care (POC) devices. Antibodies generated have been successfully integrated into clinically validated platforms that are now commercially available.

In addition, significant research has focused on the use and characterization of avian-derived antibodies due to their enhanced stability, ease of manipulation and large-scale production. There is also a focus on developing bispecific antibodies with potential clinical applications in cancer therapy.

Key programme elements:

  • Lead antibody generation and selection
  • Antibody engineering
  • Specific tailoring and fundamental studies

These programme elements include the provision of large panels of fully engineered and characterised antibody fragments to multiple biomarkers. Molecular engineering techniques are being utilised to enhance and continually evolve selected antibody characteristics for immunoassay applications including the fundamental elements that contribute to the efficiency of ligand generation, stability and post-immobilisation activity.

  • Detection of prostate specific antigen based on electrocatalytic platinum nanoparticles conjugated to a recombinant scFv antibody, Elaine Spain, Sarah Gilgunn, Shikha Sharma, Kellie Adamson, Eadaoin Carthy, Richard O’Kennedy and Robert J. Forster (2016) Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 77, 759–766.

  • Galectin-1 and Galectin 2 constitute novel binding partners for factor VIII. James O’Donnell, Jamie O’Sullivan, P.Vincent Jenkins, Orla Rawley, Kristina Gegenbauer, Alain Chion, Michelle Lavin, Barry Byrne, Richard O’Kennedy, Roger Preston and Teresa Brophy (2016) Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 36(5), 855-863

  • Technology advancements in antibody purification, Caroline Murphy, Tatyana Devine and Richard O’Kennedy (2016), Antibody Technology, 2016:16, 17-32.

  • Advances in Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis: A Journey from Lab to Point-of-Care Devices Shikha Sharma, Ragini Raghav,Richard O’Kennedy.and Sudha Srivastava (2016) Enzyme and Microbial Technology, 89, 15–30.

  • Referencing cross-reactivity of detection antibodies for protein array experiments Darragh Lemass, Richard O'Kennedy and Gregor S. Kijanka (2016), F1000 research First published: 18 Jan, 5:73 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7668.1)

  • Differential internalin A levels in biofilms of Listeria monocytogenes grown on different surfaces and nutrient conditions, Niamh Gilmartin, Maria S. Gião, Charles W. Keevil and Richard O'Kennedy (2016), International Journal of Food Microbiology, 219, 50–55.

  • Diagnostic Potential of Zinc Finger Protein-Specific Autoantibodies and Associated Linear B-Cell Epitopes in Colorectal Cancer O’Reilly Julie-Ann, Jenny Fitzgerald, Seán Fitzgerald, Dermot Kenny, Elaine W. Kay, Richard O’Kennedy, and Gregor S. Kijanka, G. (2015). PLoS One.; 10(4): e0123469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123469 PMCID: PMC4395473.

  • Detection of the cyanobacterial toxin, microcystin-LR, using a novel recombinant antibody-based optical-planar waveguide platform Caroline Murphy , Edwina Stack, Svetlana Krivelo, Daniel A. McPartlin, Barry Byrne, Charles Greef, Michael J. Lochhead, Greg Husar, Shauna Devlin, Christopher T. Elliott, Richard J. O’Kennedy (2015), Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 67, 708–714.

  • Electrochemiluminescence platform for the detection of C-reactive proteins: application of recombinant antibody technology to cardiac biomarker detection, Emmet J. O'Reilly, Paul J. Conroy, Stephen Hearty, Tia E. Keyes, Richard O'Kennedy, Robert J. Forster and Lynn Dennany (2015), DOI: 10.1039/C5RA08450D (Communication) RSC Adv., 5, 67874-67877.

  • High CerS5 expression levels associate with reduced patient survival and transition from apoptotic to autophagy signalling pathways in colorectal cancer Seán Fitzgerald, Katherine M Sheehan,Virginia Espina, Anthony O'Grady, Robert Cummins, Dermot Kenny, Lance Liotta, Richard O'Kennedy, Elaine W Kay and Gregor S Kijanka (2015), The Journal of Pathology: Clinical Research, 1(1), 54–65, DOI: 10.1002/cjp2.5..

  • Production of Functional Human Vitamin A Transporter/RBP Receptor (STRA6) for Structure Determination Conor J. Breen, Darren S. Martin, Hui Ma, Kate McQuaid, Richard O’Kennedy, John B. C. Findlay (2015), PLoS One,Published: March 27One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122293.

  • The need for effective pancreatic cancer detection and management: a biomarker-based strategy, Aoife S Crawley and Richard J O’Kennedy (2015), Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics, 15(10), 1339-1353; DOI:10.1586/14737159.2015.1083862.

  • Rapid Simultaneous Detection of Anti-protozoan Drugs Using a Lateral-Flow Immunoassay Format, Jenny Fitzgerald, Paul Leonard, Martin Danaher and Richard O’Kennedy (2015), Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 176 (2), 387-398.

  • The Purification of Natural and Recombinant Peptide Antibodies by Affinity Chromatographic Strategies, Hui Ma and Richard O’Kennedy (2015), Peptide Antibodies Volume 1348 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology, pp 153-165.

  • Facile domain rearrangement abrogates expression recalcitrance in a rabbit scFv B. Vijayalakshmi Ayyar, Stephen Hearty and Richard O’Kennedy (2015), Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 99(6), 2693-2703.

  • Exploiting Highly Ordered Subnanoliter Volume Microcapillaries as Microtools for the Analysis of Antibody Producing Cells. Fitzgerald, V., Manning, B., O’Donnell, B., O’Reilly, B., O’Sullivan,D., O’Kennedy, R.and Leonard, P. (2015) Anal. Chem.,87(2), 997-1003.

  • Reconciling the Structural Attributes of Avian Antibodies. Conroy, P., Gilgunn S., Hearty, S., Caradoc-Davies,.T., Lloyd, G.,O'Kennedy R. and James C. Whisstock, J.C. (2014) J.Biol.Chem., 289, 15384-15389.

  • A tale of two specificities: bispecific antibodies for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Byrne, H., Conroy, P., Whisstock, J. and O’Kennedy, R. (2013) Trends Biotechnol., 31(11), 621-632.


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Prof. Richard O'Kennedy, B.Sc (Hons), PhD, CBiol, FSocBiol, FIBiolI

Scientific Director, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), Dublin City University
BDI Principal Investigator Colorectal Cancer Multi-marker Diagnostics Device
BDI Leader - Education, Outreach & Entrepreneurship Programme

Prof. Richard O'Kennedy was awarded a B.Sc. (Hons.) and the Bayley Butler Cup followed by a PhD, in Biochemistry (University College Dublin), Diplomas in Computing and Computer Simulation (Trinity College) and a Diploma in Food Science (Kevin St., College of Technology, now DIT). He was a founder member of the School of Biotechnology in the National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin (now DCU) in 1980, a Senior Lecturer (1987) and Professor (1993). In 1988-89 he was a Visiting Scientist in the MD Anderson Cancer Centre at the University of Texas.

He has received numerous awards including an Albert Senior Fellowship (2000), the Biochemistry Medal of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) (2001), Fellowships of the Institutes of Biology of Ireland (2001) and the Royal Society for Biology, UK (2003), Irish Times/RDS Science lecturer (2002), the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching in Science at DCU (2002), the President's Award for Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering (2005) and the DCU President's Fujitsu Awards for Innovation (2013,15 &16). He is a member of the Life and Medical Sciences Committee of the RIA and their representative on the European Academies Science Advisory Council on Biotechnology, President, London International Youth Science Forum (2004-present), member of the Industrial Research Commercialization Committee, Enterprise Ireland (2006-present) and Vice-President of the Institute of Biology (2012-present).

He is Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of the Applied Biochemistry Research Group, internationally recognised for its expertise in immunoassays, antibody generation, education and training. His group received the award for ‘Bioscience Lab-of-the Year’ in 2014 in Ireland.

He has published extensively (220 peer-reviewed papers, over 30 reviews, 30 book chapters, 2 books; H Index=48; 8,800 citations), reviews for many journals and international scientific bodies, has patents and commercially licenced reagents and has worked closely with many Irish and international companies.

He was the founding chair of the Masters in Biomedical Diagnostics, which received the award of Outstanding Masters Programme in Science in Ireland in 2011 and is closely associated with the International School in Biomedical Diagnostics with Arizona State University.