Research Project Grant to AIAS Fellow Magnus Kjærgaard from the Danish Council for Independent Research

Yesterday, Magnus Kjærgaard’s project on ‘Antibody engineering facilitated by avidity’ has received DKK 2.6 mill in funding to advance outstanding research.

2017.05.05 | Lena Bering

Yearly, the Danish Council for Independent Research awards 49 DFF-Research Project Grants within the field of Technology and Production to researchers in Denmark to the sum of approx. DKK 188 million. The grants are awarded within the framework of the Danish Council for Independent Research’s E2016 and F2017 call, with the aim of providing researchers in Denmark the best possible conditions for producing outstanding research results at a high international level based on their own initiative. 

AIAS Fellow and Assistant Professor Magnus Kjærgaard is one of the happy grant recipients and has received DKK 2,591,605 in funding for his project entitled ‘Antibody engineering facilitated by avidity’.

Antibodies are proteins from the immune system that can be developed to specifically recognize almost any other molecule. Therefore they are used through-out medicine as drugs and diagnostic tools. Antibodies have at least two regions recognizing their target molecules. Under some conditions, these two binding sites can cooperate from a stronger and more specific binding through a process called avidity. This project will explore the factors that control avidity with a view to using it to improve antibodies, and thereby facilitating the development of new pharmaceutical antibodies”, explains Magnus Kjærgaard about his research project.

 Magnus Kjærgaard reflects on the project that has a great potential for future application.

 “The project originally started out as a purely curiosity-driven project about the organisation of signalling molecules. Then somewhere along the line we realized that our results might have practical applications in development of antibodies. This grant thus allows my research group to expand our activities in a more applied direction”, says a pleased Kjærgaard.

More about the project

Project title: Antibody engineering facilitated by avidity

Monoclonal antibodies can be developed to bind almost any other molecules which make them extremely useful both as therapeutics and in clinical diagnosis. Our ability to engineer specific and strongly binding antibodies thus have a direct implication for the drug discovery. Antibodies have at least two binding sites, and these two sites can cooperate to produce stronger binding than an individual site. This phenomenon is called avidity. Despite its importance, avidity is poorly understood in quantitative terms, and currently we cannot predict how much avidity will strengthen binding of an antibody to a given target. This prevents avidity from being used rationally in antibody engineering. This project will determine how the structure of the target and the affinities of the monovalent interaction determine the avidity enhancement of binding to a bivalent target. We will record a large experimental dataset on a bivalent antibody-antigen interaction where the affinity of the monovalent interaction can be tuned. This dataset will be used to test current theoretical models for how avidity enhancement occurs. Finally, we will develop an antibody avidity predictor web applet, capable of predicting the avidity binding constants for binding to multimeric targets of known structure. In this way, this project will provide both the fundamental knowledge and practical tools needed to rationally exploit avidity in antibodies. This knowledge can be applied to develop new antibody drugs that bind more strongly to multimeric targets, or to optimally combine epitopes into bispecific antibodies against monovalent targets.

Read more at the Danish Council for Independent Research’s website


Magnus Kjærgaard, Assistant Prof., AIAS Fellow
Phone: + 4587153773   

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies
Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B
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8000 Aarhus C