Filippo Bianchini (Robbiani Group) and Patrizia Locatelli (Cavalli Group) won the two best poster awards at the Immunotherapy for Infectious Diseases Conference (ITID) 2023, which took place on September 26-29, 2023, with their posters entitled “Human monoclonal antibodies to SARS-CoV2 and its variants of concern” and “Insights into NMDA receptor modulation by drugs and antibodies”, respectively.
The poster session took place on Thursday, September 28th, at the Bios+ building, and hosted 21 posters from national and international PhD students.
The evaluation was made first by the participants who voted for the best poster through an anonymous Google pool and second by the organizers.
Filippo Bianchini is a 4th year PhD student at the IRB of Bellinzona. He is working in the laboratory of Immunology of Infectious Disease directed by Prof. Robbiani Group, where they study the antibody response to pathogens. He is interested in studying the mechanism of action of the antibodies produced by our immune system in response to infections or certain pathological conditions.
The poster is about antibodies that can recognize all SARS-CoV-2 variants. The analysis of more than 10 million viral sequences allowed the identification of highly conserved regions of SARS-CoV-2, then antibodies specific to those regions were looked for. Two of them combined into a bispecific antibody, COV-X4042, that can recognize two domains of the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (RBD and SD1) and protect infected mice from develop symptoms. This study has been recently published on Science Immunology.
Patrizia Locatelli is a 1st year PhD student at the IRB of Bellinzona. She is working in the laboratory of Computational Structural Biology, directed by Dr. Andrea Cavalli, where they try to understand the binding between the structure and function of biological macromolecules in order to design new therapeutic tools. In particular, she is involved in a project that concerns the modulation of the NMDA receptor through antibodies and the development of new drugs as potential channel inhibitors.
The poster is about how the NMDA receptor can be modulated by drugs and antibodies. The NMDA receptor is an ionotropic glutamate receptor, plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity and has various functions within the Central Nervous System. In particular, the presence of NMDA receptor autoantibodies has been implicated in a group of pathologies. However, current diagnostic tools to identify these antibodies are invasive, potentially leading to an underestimation of related pathologies. Thus, there is a need to diagnostic tools that could identify the autoantibodies rapidly to quickly diagnose the disease and to have an effective and prompt treatment and our aim is to characterize the interaction between the NMDA receptor and antibodies.
The IRB wishes to congratulate Patrizia and Filippo for their awards.