Cell Engineering

Research Interests
Dr. Alvarez-Vallina's "Immunotherapy and Cell Engineering Laboratory (iCEL)” focuses on engineering immune molecules and receptors and different cell types for cancer immunotherapy.

The emergence of recombinant technologies has revolutionized the selection and production of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), allowing the design of fully human antibodies of any specificity and for diverse purposes.  Recombinant antibodies can be engineered with optimized properties such as antigen-binding affinity, molecular architecture and multimerization state. Furthermore, “designer antibodies” can be fused with a vast array of effector moieties to enhance their tumor-targeting ability and potency.

The use of gene therapy methods offers additional benefits by producing a continuous release of the antibody with syngenic glycosylation patterns, which makes the antibody potentially less immunogenic. In vivo secretion of therapeutic antibodies by gene modified long-lived autologous or allogeneic human cells (Antibody Factories) compensates for the rapid blood clearance of antibody fragments and may advantageously replace repeated injection of clinical-grade antibodies.

Furthermore, genetic approaches provide antibody molecules with new functions in unexpected scenarios: expression of antibody domains and grafting of new binding activities to engineered cells using artificial receptors.

Specific research focus includes: