New partnership to develop therapeutic antibodies against cancer
Researchers from the Oxford Glycobiology Institute at the Department of Biochemistry and the Scripps-Korea Antibody Institute (SKAI) have announced funding for a new partnership to develop therapeutic antibodies against cancer-associated cell surface carbohydrates.
Image showing the structure of an engineered glycan (multicoloured) on the Fc region of the antibody (grey), which gives rise to an antibody with enhanced potency against cancer cells. [Crispin M. et al J. Mol. Biol. (2009) 387(5):1061-6.]
Leading the project in Oxford are Dr Chris Scanlan, Dr Max Crispin and the Director of the Oxford Glycobiology Institute, Professor Raymond Dwek FRS.
The Scanlan group has research interests in anti-carbohydate antibodies and in the engineering of antibody effector functions which enable antibodies to recruit the immune system to the site of inflammation. The team in Oxford will focus on generating antibodies to unique carbohydrate structures that are prevalent on cancer cells but not on healthy cells. It aims to engineer the antibodies to enhance their natural inflammatory properties to enable more efficient killing of cancerous cells.
Antibodies have two functional regions: one that binds to the target and is unique to each antibody, and a constant region (Fc) that recruits other branches of the immune system which ultimately kill the target cell. The team will engineer the antibody protein surface and the attached glycans on the Fc region to boost binding to cellular receptors and enhance the anti-cancer properties.
Scripps-Korea Antibody Institute is a non-profit research institute and was founded in Chuncheon in July 2009 as a joint venture between Gangwon Province, City of Chuncheon, and Kaangwon National University. It was the first overseas branch of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). SKAI President, Dr Byeong Doo Song, who is also a Professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI, is assembling a network of leading scientists in antibody engineering to develop the next generation of therapeutic antibodies.
Professor Dwek said: "This is an exciting time in the field of antibody engineering and we are delighted to collaborate with Dr Byeong Doo Song and his team at SKAI. This SKAI-Oxford project is a significant and much welcomed move to form a close long-term collaboration between Oxford and Korean researchers".