Immune checkpoints are emerging as novel targets for cancer therapy, and antibodies against them have shown remarkable clinical efficacy with potential for combination treatments to achieve high therapeutic index. This work aims at providing a novel approach for the generation of several novel human immunomodulatory antibodies capable of binding their targets in their native conformation and useful for therapeutic applications. We performed a massive parallel screening of phage libraries by using for the first time activated human lymphocytes to generate large collections of single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) against 10 different immune checkpoints: LAG-3, PD-L1, PD-1, TIM3, BTLA, TIGIT, OX40, 4-1BB, CD27 and ICOS. By next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics analysis we ranked individual scFvs in each collection and identified those with the highest level of enrichment. As a proof of concept of the quality/potency of the binders identified by this approach, human IgGs from three of these collections (i.e., PD-1, PD-L1 and LAG-3) were generated and shown to have comparable or better binding affinity and biological activity than the clinically validated anti-PD-1 mAb nivolumab. The repertoires generated in this work represent a convenient source of agonistic or antagonistic antibodies against the 'Checkpoint Immunome' for preclinical screening and clinical implementation of optimized treatments.
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