BioExcel’s webinar series continue with a presentation by Sebastian Kelm and Richard Norman




Biologic drugs are expected to contribute to more than half of therapeutic product sales by 2022, thus overtaking traditional small molecule drugs in terms of market share. Analysts predict that the global biologics market will value at over €400bn by 2024 with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antibody (Ab) fragments expected to make up over one third of the total. Ab fragments take many forms e.g. antigen(Ag)-binding fragments (Fabs), single-chain variable fragment (scFv), bi- and tri-specifics (artificial Abs which can simultaneously bind two or three Ags) and nanobodies (single monomeric Ab domains that bind selectively to specific Ags), but they all have a common binding interface consisting of complementarity determining region (CDR) loops which recognise a particular epitope on an Ag and confer binding affinity and specificity.

mAb and Fab therapeutic discovery is guided by predicting and understanding the structure of the Ab alone and in complex with its corresponding Ag. Thus, precise modelling of Ab and Ag structures is an integral aspect of successful biologics drug discovery decision-making. Abs are unlike other proteins and as such there is a need for development of modelling tools specific for Abs which will rely on a large and varied dataset of structural information to be available in the public domain.

The Pistoia Alliance Abvance Project is a pre-competitive initiative by pharma and academic partners to further our understanding of Ab structure space and enable faster and better decision-making in Ab drug discovery. Part of this is improving our ability to model Ab structure in situations where traditional experimental methods, such as X-ray crystallography, are not practical or too slow. Our presentation will provide an overview of the use and value of Ab structures on therapeutic projects and how precise modelling can provide early impact. In addition, we will outline or current understanding of Ab structure space and our approach to cover the gaps in our knowledge.


Sebastian Kelm, Principal Scientist in the Computer-Aided Drug Design group at UCB Pharma in the UK

Sebastian holds a Bacherlor’s degree in Biochemistry (2006) and Master’s degree in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (2007) from Imperial College London, as well as a DPhil in Protein Informatics (2011) from Oxford University, where he wrote software for template-based modelling of the three-dimensional structure of transmembrane proteins (called “MEDELLER” and “MEMOIR”).

Since 2013, Sebastian has been working at UCB Pharma in the UK, where he currently holds the position of Principal Scientist in the Computer-Aided Drug Design group where his job is to support the development of new medicines. His specialty is the creation and application of software to model the three-dimensional structures and interactions of proteins, with a particular interest in antibodies and membrane proteins. As part of his effort to make better medicines, Sebastian manages several academic and pre-competitive industry collaborations focused on pushing the boundaries of computational structural biology.


Richard Norman, Managing Director of Norman Consulting

Richard holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Reading (1994) and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University College London (1998), where he investigated the structural and molecular mechanisms of two-component signal transduction in bacteria. He is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Richard has 15 years of experience from working in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries supporting the discovery and development of potential new drugs, diagnostics and nutraceuticals. Richard has managed and supported the delivery of small molecule candidate drugs from Hit Identification into Phase I clinical trials, experimental Proof of Concept studies for the extraction of value-added chemicals from food industry waste material and conducted needs and feasibility assessments for a novel diagnostic tool for antibiotic resistance, amongst other things. Richard is passionate about innovation and ensuring that the science underpinning projects is of the highest quality.

Richard is Managing Director of Norman Consulting, a young enterprise (est. January 2017) based in Norway which provides consulting services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and related life sciences industries. Richard is Consultant Project Manager for the Pistoia Alliance AbVance project.

Register for webinar

Title:  Furthering our understanding of Antibody Structure space: the Pistoia Alliance AbVance project

Date: 13th June, 2018
Time: 14:00 BST / 15:00 CEST

Registration URL:

Webinar ID: 638-780-147


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