Better protein-based therapeutics in the making
You don’t need to read a blog to know that drug development is a tough business to be in these days, especially with high failure rates in clinical trials and extended times for regulatory approval.
Protein therapeutics, including peptides and antibodies, are a bit of a bright spot, however, and here are some reasons why:
- Protein/antibody therapeutics have seen steady growth over the last few years and, according to the research report “Global Protein Therapeutics Market Analysis,” are expected to continue to grow 13% annually during 2012-2014 (press release).
- These therapeutics have significantly changed treatment in disease areas of high unmet need, including oncology, inflammation and genetic disorders (press release).
- According to an article in BioPharma Today, in the last decade, over 50 therapeutic peptides have been approved internationally, and at least four have reached the ‘blockbuster’ benchmark of over $1 billion in global sales.
- Recent activity/deals in the protein-based therapeutic space have been very positive. For example, the BMS and Ambrx deal and Theraclone financing.
While proteins, peptides and antibodies can exhibit favourable attributes in terms of therapeutics, they can also come with various challenges, including, but not limited to, challenges around stability, internalization and specificity.Genomics/proteomics researchers and smaller companies are playing an important role in this area by developing innovative platform technologies and novel methods aimed at improving these types of therapeutics. Take, for example, the work of a couple of Toronto-based research labs:
- Dr. Sachdev Sidhu’s lab is using high-throughput methods to generate synthetic antibodies that have potential advantages in terms of therapeutics over traditional antibodies, including increased specificity and stability.
- Funded in part by MaRS Innovation, Dr. Andrei Yudin’s lab is developing novel methods of making linear peptides circular in order to enter cells more effectively and increase stability compared to linear peptides.
Protein-based therapeutics are already on the rise. These are just two of many examples of innovative platforms, approaches and technologies that have the potential to drive further growth and successes in this area. The potential to produce new and highly effective therapeutics in the future is definitely a bright spot.
Helen Petropoulos is part of the Business Development team at the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI). She helps Ontario scientists and biotech companies bridge the gap between basic research and commercialization. She's also worked in consulting and in the pharmaceutical industry as a postdoctoral fellow. See more…