Multivalent antibodies: when design surpasses evolution

Trends Biotechnol. 2010 Jul;28(7):355-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2010.03.007. Epub 2010 May 4.


Evolutionary pressure has selected antibodies as key immune molecules acting against foreign pathogens. The development of monoclonal antibody technology has allowed their widespread use in research, real-time diagnosis and treatment of multiple diseases, including cancer. However, compared with hematologic malignancies, solid tumors have often proven to be relatively resistant to antibody-based therapies. In an attempt to improve the tumor-targeting efficacy of antibodies, new formats with modified, multivalent properties have been generated. Initially, these formats imitated the structure of native IgG, creating mostly monospecific, bivalent antibodies. Recently, novel trivalent antibodies have been developed to maximize tumor targeting capabilities through enhanced biodistribution and functional affinity. We review recent advances in the engineering of multivalent antibodies and further discuss their promise as agents for in vivo diagnostics and therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies*
  • Directed Molecular Evolution
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Recombinant Proteins*


  • Antibodies
  • Recombinant Proteins