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The major focus of my laboratory research is in the area of immunoregulation of infectious disease, cancer and autoimmune disease. Human monoclonal antibodies are characterized to study the humoral immune response in these disorders. . In addition, the laboratory is interested in developing active and passive forms of immunotherapy for the treatment of these disease areas. Not only do we generate new human monoclonal antibodies for our studies, but also for a large number of laboratories throughout the world for research on infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune disease. We collaborate with Drs. Greiner, Brehm and Luban here at UMMS and Dr. Leonard Schultz at Jackson Laboratories on humanized mouse models for the generation of human monoclonal antibodies and as models for passive immunotherapy for bacterial or viral infections. The laboratory has also been involved in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies of IgG and IgA human monoclonal antibodies, in several bacterial and viral infections. To further develop Dr. Cavacini’s background in mucosal immunology, included in this work is structural modeling of antibody/antigen interactions to improve the design of immunotherapeutic antibodies and development of a platform for production of dimeric and secretory IgA. These leading activities in IgA immunotherapy are currently being translated into clinical development of mucosal IgA molecules for prevention or treatment of two diverse bacterial infections. In addition to Dr. Cavacini’s current work on immunoprophylaxis for mucosal bacterial infections (e.g. Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli,, Bordetella pertussis, Klebsiella pneumonia), she is also inventor of two human monoclonal antibodies against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Dr. Cavacini also contributes to programs for Lyme Disease and other emerging pathogens. Most recently, this has been to generate reagents and establish assays for screening novel drug candidates for immunoprophylaxis or treatment of COVID-19. Our initial screen of MassBiologics’ existing panel of SARS-CoVspecific antibodies resulted in Mabs with ELISA binding activity to the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. We have moved on to nanobody discovery for broadly neutralizing antibodies against all variants of concern and interest. The expertise at MassBiologics, particularly in the areas of Discovery and Process Development, has allowed rapid production of SARS CoV-2 proteins (including several spike proteins and N protein) and human antibodies and nanobodies , contributing to the evaluation and development of therapeutics and diagnostics.
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