Antibody​​ Engineering Program

The Antibody Engineering Program (AEP) is part of the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The program focuses on generating therapeutic antibodies by phage display technology, including human antibodies and single domain antibodies (also known as ‘nanobodies’).  

While antibody-based therapeutics have emerged as a major component in clinical applications, the generation of antibodies to important targets such as cell surface receptors, ion channels, and glycoproteins remains difficult. These proteins contain buried functional sites that are unreachable by conventional mouse or human IgG-based antibodies. Single domain antibodies have shown a promising ability to target difficult antigens and hidden epitopes. Dozens of single domain antibodies are currently being evaluated in various stages of clinical trials. Dr. Mitchell Ho and colleagues at the NCI have demonstrated that single domain antibodies are capable of targeting buried functional sites in cancer signaling complexes [Feng et al. 2013; Gao et al 2015; Li et al. 2017].

His lab has constructed large shark and camel single-domain libraries and isolated binders to a wide range of antigens [Feng et al. 2019], indicating that the phage-displayed single domain antibody libraries can be a valuable source to isolate therapeutic antibodies.

The AEP is interested in collaborating with other research laboratories to develop novel antibodies for difficult or unexplored targets in cancer, infectious diseases and other human diseases. Interested collaborators should submit a proposal outlining the biological and clinical importance of their antigen and provide adequate background information for their proposal, including relevant antigen proteins (1-2 mg protein required), cell lines, animal models and commercially available antibodies.

This information will then be used for the AEP oversight committee to evaluate and approve the project. The AEP will charge each project for $5000 flat fee to screen antibodies using up to two phage display libraries. The NCI/CCR may provide subsidies 50% of the fee for NCI intramural laboratories. At the end of each project, the AEP will provide phage, phagemids along with the final report including the DNA sequences, CDR annotations and the alignment of up to five closest sequences from GenBank for all the binders.

For more information, please contact:

Mitchell Ho, Ph.D.
Director, Antibody Engineering Program
Building 37 Room 5002
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (240) 760-7848

Antibody Interest Group

The NIH/NCI Antibody Interest Group (ABIG) aims to promote information exchange and interaction among NIH scientists who work on various aspects of antibody engineering and therapy. The success of antibody therapy requires a deep understanding of biological systems in relation to molecular and cell biology, immunology, biochemistry, and microbiology as well as diseases such as cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases. Interest in antibody therapy crosses traditional biomedical disciplinary boundaries. ABIG provides an open forum for multidisciplinary discussion among colleagues who otherwise may have limited contact. The principal ABIG activities are monthly meetings on current topics. The monthly ABIG meetings are open to everyone interested. These meetings are devoted to research seminars on numerous aspects of antibody engineering and therapy that will be presented by both NIH scientists and outside speakers.

Steering Committee

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