As the pharmaceutical and biotech industries increasingly shift attention to biologics, much more attention is being paid to the prospect of membrane-bound proteins as drug targets for antibodies and other protein scaffolds. For the large GPCR and ion channel target classes, biologics offer improved selectivity, an alternative for targets with known function that have not been amenable to small molecule drugs and the potential for using antibodies for the targeted delivery of therapeutics. However, for the field to advance, fundamental challenges in optimizing antigen quality and format, screening methodology, protein engineering and target identification must be resolved.

This two-part meeting provides a forum in which discovery biologists and protein engineers can come together to discuss next generation strategies and technologies that will allow antibody- and alternate scaffold-based therapeutics directed against these target families to advance into the clinic and beyond.

The first meeting in the set, Antigen Optimization; Generation and Selection of Antibodies and Protein Scaffolds, offers a comprehensive examination of the range of methods available for producing appropriate membrane protein antigens, selecting the best screening methods for a specific target or target classes and how to develop and optimize the discovery and screening campaigns to identify functional antibodies. Part One also reviews other scaffold options, including single domain antibodies, as alternative therapeutic modalities for these targets.

Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Immunization and Display Strategies for Membrane Proteins
    • Antigen production and stabilization technologies
    • Design of more potent and diverse immunogens
    • DNA immunizations
    • Emerging antigen display technologies
    • Methods of boosting immune response
    • Phage and yeast display
    • Technology selection criteria for specific targets and projects
  • Screening Strategies to Identify Functional Antibodies Against Membrane Protein Targets
    • Cell sorting/FACS screening of yeast and phage display libraries
    • Development and validation of screening assays for functional membrane protein targets
    • In silico repertoire analysis/deep sequencing
    • Sample preparation/optimization of membrane proteins for high throughout screening
    • Screening assays to identify extracellular binders
    • Screening for biased ligands
  • Beyond Antibodies: Other Strategies for Targeting Membrane Proteins with Biologics
    • Antibody and antigen engineering for novel scaffold design
    • Design, generation and selection of nanobodies/single domain antibodies
    • Nanodiscs
    • New scaffold approaches for displaying extracellular loops
    • Other small protein fragments
    • Strategies for targeting GPCRs, ion channels and/or transporters

The second conference, Structural Analysis, Characterization and Development, explores structural, biochemical and biophysical studies used to understand the behavior of membrane protein targets in native and inhibited or activated states – and then considers issues related to the preclinical and clinical development of antibodies and other biologics as drug products against these challenging targets.

Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Structural Biology Studies to Support Development of Antibodies Against Membrane Protein Targets
    • Antigen preparation and purification for structural biology studies
    • Computational modeling for membrane protein target interactions
    • Lessons learned from newly solved GPCR and ion channel structures
    • New advances in electron microscopy
    • Structural changes following inhibition or activation
    • Structural studies for biologic drug development; working with in house and external resources
    • Structure/function correlation
  • Characterization of Membrane Protein Targets
    • Assays to measure conformational changes
    • Binding assays
    • Cell-based and in vivo models
    • Correlation of cell-based assays with animal data
    • Emerging instruments and assays for characterization of membrane protein targets
    • Impact of reagent quality on assay readouts
    • Pharmacokinetic assays
    • Toxicology assays
  • Biologic Drug Product Development for Membrane Protein Targets
    • Animal studies: species cross-reactivity/homology
    • Clinical and preclinical updates (animal models, trials)
    • Issues in developing ADCs against membrane protein targets
    • Issues in developing bispecific antibodies against membrane protein targets
    • Process development issues for membrane protein antigens

If you are interested in speaking, click here to submit a speaking proposal.

The deadline for submission is March 11, 2015. 

All proposals are subject to review by the Scientific Advisory Committee to ensure the highest quality of the conference program. Please note that due to limited speaking slots, preference is given to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, regulators and those from academia. Additionally, vendors/consultants who provide products and services to these biopharmaceutical companies are offered opportunities for podium presentation slots based on a variety of Corporate Sponsorships. 

For questions or suggestions about the meeting, please contact:
Kent Simmons
Program Director
Cambridge Healthtech Institute
T: 207-869-9199

For sponsorship and exhibit sales information including sponsored podium presentations, contact:
Jon Stroup
Sr. Business Development Manager
Cambridge Healthtech Institute
T: (+1) 781-972-5483

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2014 Discovery on Target Brochure  




Molecular Sensing




The exhibit hall was sold out in 2014, so please contact us early to reserve your place. To customize your sponsorship or exhibit package for 2015, contact:

Jon Stroup
Sr. Business Development Manager

Westin Boston Waterfront


Westin Boston Waterfront
425 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210