NUTAC's technology is based around the discovery and development of new therapeutic antibodies, especially those against cancer.
With the size of the glycome, due to the large array of possible carbohydrate modifications and lipid backbones, exceeding both the genome and proteome, it is a rich source of potential therapeutic targets. The complexity of the glycome exceeds both the proteome and the genome but is largely unexplored as it is difficult to raise antibodies to glycans (polysaccharides or oligosaccharides). Glycans are co-accessory molecules involved in regulating many physiological processes and thus inhibiting these leads to rapid tumour cell death.
The mAb group at NUTAC have recently developed a novel platform technology to unlock the glycome to allow for the production of anti-glycan mAbs. This technology has the potential to allow for the identification of numerous new targets and, although antibodies against these targets would typically be missed in conventional screening strategies due to lack of T cell help, our ability to unlock the glycome presents a unique proposition for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.
Glycolipids are ideal targets for drug delivery as they are aberrantly overexpressed by tumours and are functional co-accessory molecules essential for most physiological processes. The generation of mAbs targeting glycolipids has validated our approach and two colorectal cancer mAbs have been licensed to Arana Ltd/Kyowa Hakko for clinical development. Among the other projects currently underway, members of the Centre are producing mAbs targeting ovarian, gastric and pancreatic tumour glycolipids.