Antibody-based Drug Discovery: Tools, Methods and Emerging Trends
TOP 3 CHALLENGES IN R&D AND MANUFACTURING
Most respondents say antibody drug discovery processes such as screening, characterization and target identification were the biggest challenges in their R&D and manufacturing.
Financial challenges are the second major challenge, including limited funding opportunities and keeping R&D costs low.
OBTAINING THERAPEUTIC ANTIBODIES
Animal models are selected by the most respondents as the best method for obtaining therapeutic antibodies.
They are also selected by most of those who said they are working with bispecifics (55%) and ADCs (56%).
Phage display is the second highest selected overall, but of equal importance as animal models to those working with protein therapeutics (each selected by 43%).
The majority of those who selected ‘Other’ say that human cells such as B cells and PBMCs are the best method.
THE BIGGEST TECHNOLOGY GAP
What is the biggest technology gap or need in antibody discovery, selection and screening?
The most common suggestions from respondents include cost-effective tools for phage display, target selection and large-scale screening of antibodies.
Tools for efficacy testing and prediction, such as 3D models, are also identified by respondents as a major need in the industry.
“Lack of in vitro models”
“Phage display technology”
“High throughput kinetics”
“Initial target selection”
“Diversity of Ab repertoires and functional screening”
“Using genetics and AI to discover new targets”
“Fluorescence-activated Cell Sorting”
“Efficacy cost balance”
“3D model selections”
ANTIBODY THERAPEUTIC DEVELOPMENT
42% of respondents say that novel targets for antibodies is the most important area of development to them. This portion includes most of those who work in auto-immune diseases (58%), neurodegenerative conditions (47%) and infectious diseases (42%).
Discovery, selection and screening strategies are the second most important area to respondents, and the highest selected by those who work in inflammation, rare diseases, obesity, ocular and cardiovascular conditions.
A quarter of the respondents say that they are using AI and/or machine learning as part of their R&D, including nearly half of those working with ADCs and CAR-T/cellular therapies.
41% of the respondents believe that combination antibody mediated immunotherapy is the most exciting emerging trend in antibody engineering and therapeutics.
COVID-19-Based Drug Development
ANTIBODY-BASED PROJECTS RELATED TO COVID-19
55% of the respondents say that their companies were carrying out work related to COVID-19.
This portion includes 82% of respondents working in CROs, 56% of those working in academic institutions and 100% of those working in regulatory agencies.
Almost all the respondents whose work with antibodies related to COVID-19 say that they are working with mAbs.
However, a small proportion also say they were working with other modalities such as bispecifics.
Nearly all the respondents whose work with antibodies related to COVID-19 say that they are working on COVID-related therapeutics.
Just under a fifth of respondents said that they are working on vaccines related to COVID-19, 71% of whom are from academic institutions.
Relating to your COVID-19 research, what is the single biggest challenge/obstacle you are trying to overcome?
There are a diverse range of answers to this question. The most common themes for our respondents’ struggles are financial challenges, working with limited resources and the complexity of SARS-Cov-2 and COVID-19.
“Extra neutralizing mechanisms of protection”
“Complex biology/etiology of the disease”
“Developing relevant assays in a BSL2 environment (using pseudovirus assays now)”
"Target antigen expression (development of mutant proteins)”
“New variants of SARS-COV2”
“On chip functional screening of patient samples”
“Potency and pairing with other highly potent mAbs for combination therapy”
“Limited resources (people to do the work mostly)”
“P3 facility availability”
Regeneron is the highest named by respondents as an industry leader for COVID-19 applications.
In close second place is Eli Lilly, and both AstraZeneca and Pfizer are the third-highest suggested, in equal measures.