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Methods. 2012 Aug;57(4):486-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Synthetic antibodies: concepts, potential and practical considerations.

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Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The last 100 years of enquiry into the fundamental basis of humoral immunity has resulted in the identification of antibodies as key molecular sentinels responsible for the in vivo surveillance, neutralization and clearance of foreign substances. Intense efforts aimed at understanding and exploiting their exquisite molecular specificity have positioned antibodies as a cornerstone supporting basic research, diagnostics and therapeutic applications [1]. More recently, efforts have aimed to circumvent the limitations of developing antibodies in animals by developing wholly in vitro techniques for designing antibodies of tailored specificity. This has been realized with the advent of synthetic antibody libraries that possess diversity outside the scope of natural immune repertoires and are thus capable of yielding specificities not otherwise attainable. This review examines the convergence of technologies that have contributed to the development of combinatorial phage-displayed antibody libraries. It further explores the practical concepts that underlie phage display, antibody diversity and the methods used in the generation of and selection from phage-displayed synthetic antibody libraries, highlighting specific applications in which design approaches gave rise to specificities that could not easily be obtained with libraries based upon natural immune repertories.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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