What is Therapeutic Antibody Engineering?
Antibodies are blood proteins that chemically combine with substances in the body, such as bacteria, viruses and foreign substances in the blood.
They are highly adaptive structures and, specifically, monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) – that bind to only one substance – have emerged as a major target of research for biological drugs for various diseases. For cancer treatments, Mabs bind only to cancer cells and produce immunological responses against the cancer cells.
Fueled by advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering, efforts are underway to engineer new generations of Mabs with tumor-fighting effects that are less harmful to normal cells (as compared to traditional cancer treatments).
NFCR Research Highlights
Dr. Wayne Marasco is a world-renowned antibody engineering expert who works on infectious diseases and cancer immunotherapies.
In an effort to greatly expand the use of Mabs in the treatment of cancer, Dr. Marasco and NFCR founded the NFCR Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering. He collaborates with accomplished global cancer investigators in a joint effort to uncover new Mabs using his laboratory’s human antibody library.
Dr. Marasco has had great success developing Mabs that attach to an important protein – carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) – that is highly expressed in renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. Once attached, the CAIX antibody can halt abnormal cancer growth.
Most recently, his team at the NFCR Center developed a combination immunotherapy treatment that holds promise for treating metastatic kidney cancer more effectively. The immunotherapy they have engineered includes not only the CAIX antibody that detects and binds to CAIX growth-promoting proteins on cancerous kidney cells, but also unblocks T cells to enable more rigorous attacks against cancer. Moreover, this double treatment approach could be adapted to treat advanced colon, breast, brain and other difficult-to-treat solid cancers using different antibodies.