Advancing Computational Methods for the Functional Characterisation of Antibodies Using Structural and Flexibility Data

F.Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
University of Oxford

Antibodies are the most rapidly growing class of therapeutic drugs, owing to their properties which cause fewer side effects than other drugs. However, the development of antibody therapeutics is resource intensive and inefficient, leading to the drugs being prohibitively expensive to purchase.

Computational methods hold the potential to replace time-consuming laboratory experiments, and recent advances in machine learning have led to major breakthroughs in this regard. Fabian’s project will apply state-of-the-art prediction methods to assist the computational design of antibody drugs as well as help to advance protein structure prediction tools more generally. As the 3D structure of an antibody determines its function, and therefore what it will target, predicting an antibody’s structure is a crucial step during the drug development process. However, current structure prediction tools predict a single 3D structure, whilst the function of antibodies depends on the ability to adapt their shape. Fabian aims to develop a method that will predict the ensemble of shapes an antibody adapts in the body. Predicting the flexibility of antibodies to such a degree would be a significant development in both antibody drug design and protein structure prediction.

Fabian’s project will help to address fundamental questions in the community of protein structure prediction, and also help to create more efficient methods to facilitate the design of antibody therapeutics. The long-term benefits of Fabian’s work could include developments of new antibody therapeutics that can treat severe diseases and do so at a reduced cost, increasing accessibility across all geographies.


Fabian graduated with a first class Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University College London and a Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Oxford. Currently, he is undertaking a PhD in statistics at the University of Oxford in partnership with F.Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. During his undergraduate degree, Fabian returned to Switzerland for two summer internships in the University of Basel’s department of biomedicine.