Defining the Role of Sugars on Antibodies and Developing New Antibody Technologies to Treat Immune-mediated Diseases

Robert Anthony, PhD
Robert Anthony, PhD
Frisbie Family MGH Research Scholar 2021-2026
Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Antibodies are the preeminent effector proteins of the immune system, and are involved in many aspects of health and disease. IgG antibodies offer protection again infection and cancer and have had tremendous clinical success in the form of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. IgE antibodies that recognize environmental proteins are absolutely responsible for allergies.

However, the biology of both of these antibody types are contradicted by well-known clinical paradoxes. For example, IgG is routinely given as an anti-inflammatory therapeutic to patients suffering from autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the form of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Also, half of the individuals with peanut-specific IgE do not have peanut allergies.

Work from our group has demonstrated that the presence of of specific sugars on IgG and IgE dictate their biological activity. Specifically, the addition of sialic acid converts IgG from inflammatory antibodies into anti-inflammatory antibodies, and non-allergic IgE into allergic IgE.

My laboratory strives to define the role of sugars on the two most clinically relevant classes of antibodies and develop technologies that module the sialic acid content of IgG and IgE as a novel therapeutic approach to immune-mediated diseases.