Antibodies leverage on their unique architecture to bind with an array of antigens. The strength of interaction has a direct relation to the affinity of the antibodies towards the antigen. In vivo
affinity maturation is performed through multiple rounds of somatic hypermutation and selection in the germinal centre. This unique process involves intricate sequence rearrangements at the gene level via molecular mechanisms. The emergence of in vitro
display technologies, mainly phage display and recombinant DNA technology, has helped revolutionize the way antibody improvements are being carried out in the laboratory. The adaptation of molecular approaches in vitro
to replicate the in vivo
processes has allowed for improvements in the way recombinant antibodies are designed and tuned. Combinatorial libraries, consisting of a myriad of possible antibodies, are capable of replicating the diversity of the natural human antibody repertoire. The isolation of target-specific antibodies with specific affinity characteristics can also be accomplished through modification of stringent protocols. Despite the ability to screen and select for high-affinity binders, some ‘fine tuning’ may be required to enhance antibody binding in terms of its affinity. This review will provide a brief account of phage display technology used for antibody generation followed by a summary of different combinatorial library characteristics. The review will focus on available strategies, which include molecular approaches, next generation sequencing, and in silico
approaches used for antibody affinity maturation in both therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
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