Abs are versatile molecules with the potential to achieve exceptional binding to target Ags, while also possessing biophysical properties suitable for therapeutic drug development. Protein display and directed evolution systems have transformed synthetic Ab discovery, engineering, and optimization, vastly expanding the number of Ab clones able to be experimentally screened for binding. Moreover, the burgeoning integration of high-throughput screening, deep sequencing, and machine learning has further augmented in vitro Ab optimization, promising to accelerate the design process and massively expand the Ab sequence space interrogated. In this Brief Review, we discuss the experimental and computational tools employed in synthetic Ab engineering and optimization. We also explore the therapeutic challenges posed by developing Abs for infectious diseases, and the prospects for leveraging machine learning–guided protein engineering to prospectively design Abs resistant to viral escape.

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