Wouter Verdurmen
About: Wouter Verdurmen - Researcher, Department of Biochemistry

Dr. Verdurmen has done his his PhD on the cellular delivery of biomacromolecules at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, focusing on the use of cell-penetrating peptides. After finishing his PhD cum laude, he received a postdoctoral fellowship that he used to join the laboratory of Andreas Plückthun in order to work on developing a quantitative assay for measuring cytosolic delivery, which he then employed to investigate engineered modular protein transport systems.

1. What do you think has been the biggest achievement within the antibody sector in the last 12 months?

Personally, I was very impressed by the mice work that has been done at Genentech regarding the identification of specific bloodbrain barrier targets that allowed a much better accumulation of antibodies in the brain. This could represent a big step forward for a whole new class of antibody drugs, if it works equally well in humans.

2. What important points do you hope to convey at the congress, and what information can you give me now that delegates can look forward to?

My own area of interest is protein drugs against intracellular targets. This is still a rather underdeveloped area, because of key issues related to intracellular delivery. I want to demonstrate that real progress is being made in this area, and that the development of protein drugs again intracellular targets is now a realistic possibility and will become ever more so over the next years.

3. What do you think will be the biggest topic of discussion at this November's European Antibody Congress?

I suspect 2016 to be another year where discussions on various types of antibodybased immunotherapies will be very central. Rightfully so, as it becoming a mature field. A lot has been achieved already, but a lot can still be improved with novel therapies that are in (pre)clinical development.

4. What are you looking forward to the most at the European Antibody Congress?

As an academic scientist, I am particularly interested in novel approaches that have broad potential. Finding new ways to deliver antibodies across tissuespecific endothelia, or novel platforms that enable reaching (intracellular) targets that have thus far remained out of reach are key examples.

5. What do you think will be the take home messages from the congress?

The take home message will be that the surge in the acceptance of biological drugs since 2014 is not a fluke, but that so much more is on its way to the clinic that the field will be productive for a very long time to come.