Modulating properties of antibodies using unnatural amino acids

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Amit Sachdeva

    University of East Anglia

Project summary

Advances in molecular biology and genetics have greatly enhanced the production of proteins with unnatural amino acids having diverse chemical properties. Proteins from several classes are now being modified using unnatural amino acids that can add to or alter the natural properties of the protein. Antibodies, with their wide range of applications through molecular biology to medicine, present an attractive class of proteins whose properties may be modulated using unnatural amino acids.

We want to develop photoactive antibodies that can be controlled using light. Such antibodies could be used as research tools to study antibody-mediated processes, and also have the potential to be used in antibody-based photoactive therapeutics. We will also develop antibody-based optical switches – antibodies that become fluorescent upon binding to target antigens.

These switches would overcome a major limitation of current antibody-based detection methods, where immobilisation of antigen or antibody to a surface is required. Such optical switches are expected to have applications in cancer diagnosis and detection of viruses and bacteria.