Antibody discovery for neglected tropical and emerging infectious diseases

Monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies are now routinely used as cancer therapies and immunosuppressants. Many mAbs licensed today are so-called ‘blockbuster’ therapies, with the majority of the Top 10 best-selling therapeutic drugs being mAbs.  Until recently, mAbs for infectious diseases have largely lagged behind those for cancer and immunotherapies. However, the increase in demand for therapies, and spurred on by the recent covid pandemic, has led to substantial investments and advances in optimised manufacturing and reducing production costs.  As such, there is increasing appetite for investing and developing mAbs for infectious diseases, including emerging infectious diseases and those which predominantly affect LMICs. Using LSTM’s and Lancaster University’s unique resources, this project will be focused on the development of mAbs for a range of neglected tropical diseases, such as snakebite envenoming and recently emerging infectious diseases including pox viruses (for example, mpox).

Where does the project lie on the Translational Pathway?

T1 – Basic Research

Expected Outputs

The expected outputs for this project will be high-impact papers, patents and the potential discovery for discovery of therapeutic candidates for a range of neglected tropical diseases and potential emerging infectious disease.

Training Opportunities

  • Full training in a range of in vitro and in in vivo antibody discovery and validation techniques
  • Training in recombinant engineering of bacteria and mammalian cells will be provided
  • Immunological training on a range of high-throughput and sensitive techniques (e.g. Flow cytometry, FACS) will be provided.

Skills Required

We expect the student to possess strong organisational and project solving aptitude. The student would benefit from basic skills in microbiology and immunology, however, this is not essential as we will provide in-depth training in all techniques.

Key Publications associated with this project

Pantaleo, G., Correia, B., Fenwick, C. et al. Antibodies to combat viral infections: development strategies and progress. Nat Rev Drug Discov 21, 676–696 (2022).

Menzies, S.K., Dawson, C.A., Crittenden, E. et al. Virus-like particles displaying conserved toxin epitopes stimulate polyspecific, murine antibody responses capable of snake venom recognition. Sci Rep 12, 11328 (2022).

Hooft van Huijsduijnen R, Kojima S, Carter D, Okabe H, Sato A, et al. (2020) Reassessing therapeutic antibodies for neglected and tropical diseases. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(1): e0007860.

Khalifa ME, Unterholzner L, Munir M (2021). Structural and evolutionary insights into the binding of host receptors by the Rabies virus glycoprotein. Front Cell Infect Microbiol 11:736114

Unterholzner L and Almine JF (2019). Camouflage and interception: How pathogens evade detection by intracellular nucleic acids sensors. Immunology, 156(3):217-227

LSTM Themes and Topics – Key Words

Neglected tropical diseases, Resistance research and management


Application Portal closes: Thursday 9th February 2023 (12:00 noon UK time)

Shortlisting complete by: End Feb/early March 2023

Interviews by: Late March/early April 2023

Further information on the MRC CASE/DTP 2023/24 programme and how to apply can be found here