Antibody Forum – Part 1


Discovery on Target’s Antibody Forum offers R&D research scientists the opportunity to participate in a unique meeting format that encourages discussion and the exchange of best practices on the application of new science and technology for the discovery and development of novel biotherapeutics. The meeting will feature short presentations, panel discussions, facilitated roundtables and an audience layout that allows a sharing of ideas and experiences. Part 1 will focus on the discovery stage, offering ideas on how to accelerate and optimize these steps, emerging discovery technologies and the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Final Agenda

Monday, September 16

1:00 pm Pre-Conference Short Course Registration (America Foyer)
Click here for details on short courses offered.

Tuesday, September 17

7:00 am Registration Open and Morning Coffee (America Foyer)

Optimizing The Discovery Workflow

8:00 Organizer's Welcome Remarks

8:05 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Jane Seagal, PhD, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Biologics Generation Group, AbbVie Bioresearch Center

8:10 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Antibody Discovery at the Intersection of Immunology and Oncology

Nixon_AndyAndrew Nixon, PhD, Vice President, Biotherapeutics Molecule Discovery, Boehringer Ingelheim

8:40 Functional Interrogation of Antibody Repertoire at Single Cell Level

Cheng_YuxingYuxing Cheng, PhD, Principal Scientist, Antibody Discovery, Pfizer, Inc.

Recent advances in microfluidic technology allow massively parallelized analysis of B cell repertoire at single cell level. Here we are presenting a novel microfluidic platform based on Opto-electroposition technology that enables single cell manipulation in a microfluidic environment with semi-automated workflow and functional interrogation of the antibody repertoire from immunized animals with cell-based binding and functional assays.

9:10 Integrated Antibody Discovery Platforms

Seagal_JaneJane Seagal, PhD, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Biologics Generation Group, AbbVie Bioresearch Center

The constantly growing demand for novel therapeutic biologics drives technology innovation enabling efficient antibody discovery. Optimization and ‘digitalization’ of antibody discovery workflows is essential for successful identification of antibodies against challenging targets and the sampling diverse antibody repertoires. In this talk, integrated platforms for discovery of antibodies from yeast display, hybridoma and single B cell technologies are presented highlighting the integration of sequence information, screening data, and informatics for large panels of antibodies.

9:40 Grand Opening Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (America Ballroom)

Discovery Workflow Case Studies

10:25 Integrating Yeast Display with Transgenic Mouse Immunization for Human VH Domain Lead Generation

Chen_IrwinIrwin Chen, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biologic Discovery, Amgen

Autonomous human VH-only domains (VHOs) promise to simplify the construction of multi-specific molecules and potentially bind epitopes that are difficult to access with conventional antibodies. To discover VHO leads, we employed a workflow combining transgenic Harbour mouse immunization and yeast surface display to isolate binders against diverse targets. I will present on challenges encountered in VHO lead identification and developability assessment, and strategies to overcome some of the obstacles.

10:55 Leveraging Computational Approaches in Antibody Workflows: Discovery, Design and Engineering

Robinson_LukeLuke Robinson, PhD, Director, Research, Visterra

A variety of computational biology approaches have matured over recent years, positioning them to substantially aid the therapeutic antibody discovery and engineering process. How can we productively leverage these computational approaches, in combination with existing high-throughput experimental techniques, to improve therapeutic antibody discovery and engineering? I will present examples of using computational tools of structural modeling, bioinformatics and machine learning to applications of Fc engineering, antibody-antigen docking and de novo antibody design.

11:25 High-Throughput Production of Antibodies Using Yeast and Mammalian Cells

Niles_RebeccaRebecca Hurley Niles, PhD, Senior Scientist, High Throughput Expression, Adimab

High-throughput, small-scale production of antibodies is an essential part of a discovery workflow. After isolation from a large yeast-based antibody library, Adimab directly expresses large panels of full-length IgGs in 96-well and 24-well format. Protein purification is accomplished in a plate-based format using liquid handling platforms. The same semi-automated process is also compatible with IgGs expressed in mammalian hosts. Process setup, attributes, and output will be reviewed.

11:55 Against Nature: How to Hack Immune Systems to Discover Antibodies that Target Complex Membrane Proteins

Lecault_VéroniqueVéronique Lecault, PhD, Co-Founder, AbCellera

Antibodies offer significant selectivity advantages over small molecules to target complex membrane proteins. Yet, few have made it to clinic, primarily due to discovery challenges. Over the years, AbCellera has successfully completed several antibody discovery programs targeting GPCRs and ion channels. We will share lessons and insights that were instrumental to those successes, centred on deep screening and a suite of cutting-edge technologies that includes intelligent antigen formats, strategic immunizations, machine learning, and data visualization.

12:25 pm Session Break

12:35 Luncheon Presentation: Rapid Therapeutic Antibody Discovery in Challenging Projects Using AlivaMabTM Mouse and AlivaMab Discovery Services

Larry Green, PhD, Founder and CEO, Ablexis / AlivaMab Discovery Services

AlivaMab Mouse delivers superior molecular diversity and high-affinity, high-potency therapeutic antibody candidates with faster timelines than other platforms on the market. AlivaMab Discovery Services has developed proprietary processes to overcome the challenges of modern antibody drug discovery with industry-leading timelines. We will present case studies in the rapid generation of therapeutic quality antibodies with challenging discovery plans including against several GPCRs.

1:15 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

1:50 Chairperson’s Remarks

Andrew Bradbury, PhD, MB BS (MD), CSO, Specifica, Inc.

Panel Discussion
Essex Center

1:55 Emerging Discovery Technologies

Bradbury_AndrewModerator: Andrew Bradbury, PhD, MB BS (MD), CSO, Specifica, Inc.

Panelists: Irwin Chen, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biologic Discovery, Amgen

Enkelejda Miho, PhD, Professor, Digital Life Sciences, FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland

Andrew Nixon, PhD, Vice President, Biotherapeutics Molecule Discovery, Boehringer Ingelheim

Jane Seagal, PhD, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Biologics Generation Group, AbbVie Bioresearch Center

Please join us for this informative and useful discussion of new and emerging tools and technologies used to help early stage researchers discover new and novel therapeutic antibodies. Our panel will share updates and best practices on NGS, single b-cell cloning, artificial intelligence, computational modeling and more. Come prepared to share your own experiences and ask questions (even basic ones) about this rapidly-changing field.

2:55 Late-Breaking Presentation

3:25 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing and Poster Competition Winner Announced

Machine Learning And AI For Antibody And Protein Engineering

4:05 NEW: Structure-Based Antibody Design: Antibody Modeling and Protein Engineering

Alain Ajamian, PhD, Director, Business Development, Chemical Computing Group

The presentation will describe approaches for structure-based antibody design and includes protein-protein interactions analysis, in silico protein engineering, affinity modeling and antibody homology modeling. The interaction of a co-crystallized antibody-antigen complex will be studied by generating and examining the molecular surfaces and visualizing protein-protein interactions in 3D and 2D. Antibody properties will be evaluated using specialized calculated protein property descriptors and analyzing protein patches.  The application of protein engineering tools for homology modeling and conducting property optimization of antibodies in the context of developability will be studied.

4:35 Transitioning from Traditional Computational Modeling to Machine Learning and AI

Miho_EnkelejdaEnkelejda Miho, PhD, Professor, Digital Life Sciences, FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland

The advent of large-scale data was followed by the consequential shift from one-at-a-time considerations to systems computational investigations. As a result, statistical analysis focused on the quantification of systems patterns. However, machine learning and deep learning have fast-forwarded analysis from the systems-level initial insights to application-driven results. We investigate the applicability of neural networks in longitudinal antibody sequences of personal immune repertoires and compare systems insights versus deep learning predictions.

Essex Ballroom

Interactive Breakout Discussion Groups - View All Breakouts

Join a breakout discussion group. These are informal, moderated discussions with brainstorming and interactive problem solving, allowing participants from diverse backgrounds to exchange ideas and experiences and develop future collaborations around a focused topic.

R&D for Emerging Modalities

Moderator: Zhiqiang An, PhD, Professor, Chemistry; Director, Texas Therapeutics Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

  • Consideration of alternative modalities for intended target
  • Technologies for selections in final format
  • Emerging technologies for antibody discovery; NGS, single cell analysis, CRISPR, AI
  • Integrating traditional display platforms with new technologies
  • Multispecific platforms

Fit-for-Purpose Membrane Protein Generation in Biologics Development

Moderator: Leyu Wang, PhD, Senior Scientist and Project Leader, Protein Sciences, AbbVie

  • Best practices to decide approaches for membrane protein production
  • Strategy for expression analysis for a novel multipanner
  • Challenges to close gap between membrane protein supply and demand
  • How to tap the external research organization or company

Structural Biology Challenges in R&D for Membrane Protein Targets

Moderator: Xinchao Yu, PhD, Senior Scientist, Cryo-EM, Amgen

  • Producing sufficient quantity of minimally engineered human membrane proteins
  • Crystallography vs. cryo-EM, pros and cons
  • Detergents, nanodiscs or SMALPs
  • High-throughput structural biology for membrane proteins

Additional Breakouts to be Announced

6:05 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (America Ballroom)

7:10 Close of Day

Wednesday, September 18

7:30 am Registration Open and Morning Coffee (America Foyer)

High-Throughput Functional Screening

8:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Enkelejda Miho, PhD, Professor, Digital Life Sciences, FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland

8:05 Simultaneous Pharmacokinetic Measurements of More than 100 Individual Binding Proteins by NestLink

Egloff_PascalPascal Egloff, PhD, Platform Leader, University of Zurich, Switzerland

NestLink enables characterization of thousands of individual binding proteins at once. The technology was previously applied in vitro for the efficient identification high-affinity binders against integral membrane proteins in the cellular context. In this talk, I will show that NestLink can be applied in vivo as well, such as to simultaneously determine pharmacokinetic parameters of more than one hundred individual multi-specific binding proteins in a single model organism.

8:35 Impact of IgG Subclass on Antibody Screening

Foltz_IanIan Foltz, PhD, Scientific Director, Amgen

Successful screening of human antibody panels requires an understanding of the therapeutic design goals including specificity, functional activity and affinity.  Antibody isotype differences can be leveraged in IgG2 antibodies to enhance agonist antibody screening and in IgG4 antibodies through Fab arm exchange for monovalent antibody screening.  This presentation will outline some of the challenges and advantages of screening these antibody isotypes against design goals for therapeutic antibody development. 

9:05 Immunizing Divergent Species as a MAb Discovery Strategy for Difficult Targets

Chambers_RossRoss Chambers, PhD, Vice President of Antibody Discovery, Integral Molecular

The FDA’s recent approval of a llama nanobody reflects increasing acceptance of nonrodent species for therapeutic antibody discovery. Using our MPS Antibody Discovery platform, we immunize chickens to produce antibodies against complex targets with an unprecedented success rate. Our antibody panels cover diverse epitopes, even for highly conserved proteins; react to human and rodent orthologs, avoiding the need for surrogate antibodies; and include rare functional and state-specific antibodies, enabling development of novel therapeutics.

9:35 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (America Ballroom)

Panel Discussion

10:20 Membrane Protein Tools and Technologies – What Is Working and What Isn’t?

Heyries_KevinModerator: Kevin Heyries, PhD, Co-Founder, AbCellera, Canada

Panelists: John Blankenship, PhD, Senior Investigator and Group Leader, Antibody Discovery, Novartis

Brian Booth, PhD, Senior Scientist, Drug Discovery, Visterra

Benjamin Doranz, PhD, MBA, President and CEO, Integral Molecular

Heike Wulff, PhD, Associate Professor, Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis

The challenging nature of membrane proteins has often dictated that researchers employ a toolbox approach to this work, cycling through a wide range of methods and technologies to find the best fit for a specific project. Join this panel – shared between the Antibodies Against Membrane Targets and Antibody Forum audiences – for an interactive discussion of experiences with different discovery tools used in this space. You’ll hear perspectives from both panelists and other audience members and have the opportunity to share your own questions and best practices.

11:20 Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

11:20 Conference Registration for Programs 1B-7B

Essex Ballroom

Click here for full abstracts.

12:20 pm Event Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

An-Dinh Nguyen, Team Lead, Discovery on Target 2019, Cambridge Healthtech Institute


12:30 Plenary Keynote Introduction

Anjan Chakrabarti, Vice President, Discovery Chemistry, Syngene International Ltd

12:40 Base Editing: Chemistry on a Target Nucleotide in the Genome of Living Cells

David R. Liu, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Harvard University



1:20 PROTACs: Past, Present, and Future

Craig M. Crews, PhD, Professor, Chemistry; Pharmacology; Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology; Yale University



2:00 Close of Plenary Keynote Program

2:00 Dessert Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (America Ballroom)

2:45 Close of Antibody Forum – Part 1 Conference
Please click here to continue to the agenda for Antibody Forum – Part 2: Engineering and Development