09 November 2011
Romain Rouet has received the $10,000 USD Castle Harlan Award for being the most outstanding early career PhD student at the Garvan Institute in 2011.
The award can be used for anything that might help career development, such as travel to overseas conferences or laboratories.
Castle Harlan Inc. is a US-based private equity firm that wishes to support the kind of medical research being undertaken at Garvan. The award was presented last night by Mr Leonard Harlan (Chairman, Executive Committee of Castle Harlan) and Mr Howard Morgan (Co-President).
A member of Garvan’s Antibody Therapeutics lab, Romain has been investigating the problem of ‘antibody aggregation’ – in other words, the tendency of antibodies to get tangled up with each other, forming clusters.
Whereas antibodies in the human body are found at low concentrations, and so tend not to get tangled, antibody drugs in a vial for injection are highly concentrated, so do get tangled. Consequently, aggregation is a major problem in the development of new antibody drugs, particularly for those ‘formulated’ for patient self-administration at home.
Antibodies are used to treat cancers and autoimmune diseases, and many are in clinical trials around the world. More than half of all new drugs currently in development are antibodies.
Romain will be using the Castle Harlan Award to attend a protein engineering conference in Boston next May and to carry out work with collaborators in Cambridge (UK).