2018 Vol. 9, No. 1

Antibody therapeutics represents a major breakthrough in
combating human diseases and the improvement of human
health. About 80 antibody therapies have been approved for
the treatment of cancer, immune disorders, and metabolic,
cardiovascular and infectious diseases. The rapid rise of
antibody-based therapies is largely due to their desirable
safety profile, target specificity, and efficacy. Antibody-based
therapies are engineered into diverse modalities such as
naked IgGs, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), bispecific
antibodies, antibody fragments, and Fc-modified antibodies.
Antibody-based therapies often possess multiple modes of
actions which include interrupting ligand-receptor interaction
and signaling, engaging immune effector functions, and
blocking immune check point inhibition. The cover picture
illustrates an antibody-binding to a cell surface receptor,
thereby inhibiting ligand-receptor interaction and signaling.
“Magic Bullets” at the center stage of immune therapy: a special issue on therapeutic antibodies
Zhiqiang An
2018, 9(1): 1-2. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0488-1
In vitro-engineered non-antibody protein therapeutics
Rudo Simeon, Zhilei Chen
2018, 9(1): 3-14. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0386-6
Antibodies have proved to be a valuable mode of therapy for numerous diseases, mainly owing to their high target binding affinity and specificity. Unfortunately, antibodies are also limited in several respects, chief amongst those being the extremely high cost of manufacture. Therefore, non-antibody binding proteins have long been sought after as alternative therapies. New binding protein scaffolds are constantly being designed or discovered with some already approved for human use by the FDA. This review focuses on protein scaffolds that are either already being used in humans or are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Although not all are expected to be approved, the significant benefits ensure that these molecules will continue to be investigated and developed as therapeutic alternatives to antibodies. Based on the location of the amino acids that mediate ligand binding, we place all the protein scaffolds under clinical development into two general categories:scaffolds with ligand-binding residues located in exposed flexible loops, and those with the binding residues located in protein secondary structures, such as α-helices. Scaffolds that fall under the first category include adnectins, anticalins, avimers, Fynomers, Kunitz domains, and knottins, while those belonging to the second category include affibodies, β-hairpin mimetics, and designed ankyrin repeat proteins (DARPins). Most of these scaffolds are thermostable and can be easily produced in microorganisms or completely synthesized chemically. In addition, many of these scaffolds derive from human proteins and thus possess very low immunogenic potential. Additional advantages and limitations of these protein scaffolds as therapeutics compared to antibodies will be discussed.
Pharmacokinetics of monoclonal antibodies and Fc-fusion proteins
Liming Liu
2018, 9(1): 15-32. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0408-4
There are many factors that can influence the pharmacokinetics (PK) of a mAb or Fc-fusion molecule with the primary determinant being FcRn-mediated recycling. Through Fab or Fc engineering, IgG-FcRn interaction can be used to generate a variety of therapeutic antibodies with significantly enhanced half-life or ability to remove unwanted antigen from circulation. Glycosylation of a mAb or Fc-fusion protein can have a significant impact on the PK of these molecules. mAb charge can be important and variants with pI values of 1-2 unit difference are likely to impact PK with lower pI values being favorable for a longer half-life. Most mAbs display target mediated drug disposition (TMDD), which can have significant consequences on the study designs of preclinical and clinical studies. The PK of mAb can also be influenced by anti-drug antibody (ADA) response and off-target binding, which require careful consideration during the discovery stage. mAbs are primarily absorbed through the lymphatics via convection and can be conveniently administered by the subcutaneous (sc) route in large doses/volumes with co-formulation of hyaluronidase. The human PK of a mAb can be reasonably estimated using cynomolgus monkey data and allometric scaling methods.
Antibody-drug conjugates: recent advances in conjugation and linker chemistries
Kyoji Tsuchikama, Zhiqiang An
2018, 9(1): 33-46. doi: 10.1007/s13238-016-0323-0
The antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), a humanized or human monoclonal antibody conjugated with highly cytotoxic small molecules (payloads) through chemical linkers, is a novel therapeutic format and has great potential to make a paradigm shift in cancer chemotherapy. This new antibody-based molecular platform enables selective delivery of a potent cytotoxic payload to target cancer cells, resulting in improved efficacy, reduced systemic toxicity, and preferable pharmacokinetics (PK)/pharmacodynamics (PD) and biodistribution compared to traditional chemotherapy. Boosted by the successes of FDA-approved Adcetris® and Kadcyla®, this drug class has been rapidly growing along with about 60 ADCs currently in clinical trials. In this article, we briefly review molecular aspects of each component (the antibody, payload, and linker) of ADCs, and then mainly discuss traditional and new technologies of the conjugation and linker chemistries for successful construction of clinically effective ADCs. Current efforts in the conjugation and linker chemistries will provide greater insights into molecular design and strategies for clinically effective ADCs from medicinal chemistry and pharmacology standpoints. The development of site-specific conjugation methodologies for constructing homogeneous ADCs is an especially promising path to improving ADC design, which will open the way for novel cancer therapeutics.
Glycosylation engineering of therapeutic IgG antibodies: challenges for the safety, functionality and efficacy
Yusuke Mimura, Toshihiko Katoh, Radka Saldova, Roisin O'Flaherty, Tomonori Izumi, Yuka Mimura-Kimura, Toshiaki Utsunomiya, Yoichi Mizukami, Kenji Yamamoto, Tsuneo Matsumoto, Pauline M. Rudd
2018, 9(1): 47-62. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0433-3
Glycosylation of the Fc region of IgG has a profound impact on the safety and clinical efficacy of therapeutic antibodies. While the biantennary complex-type oligosaccharide attached to Asn297 of the Fc is essential for antibody effector functions, fucose and outer-arm sugars attached to the core heptasaccharide that generate structural heterogeneity (glycoforms) exhibit unique biological activities. Hence, efficient and quantitative glycan analysis techniques have been increasingly important for the development and quality control of therapeutic antibodies, and glycan profiles of the Fc are recognized as critical quality attributes. In the past decade our understanding of the influence of glycosylation on the structure/function of IgG-Fc has grown rapidly through X-ray crystallographic and nuclear magnetic resonance studies, which provides possibilities for the design of novel antibody therapeutics. Furthermore, the chemoenzymatic glycoengineering approach using endoglycosidase-based glycosynthases may facilitate the development of homogeneous IgG glycoforms with desirable functionality as nextgeneration therapeutic antibodies. Thus, the Fc glycans are fertile ground for the improvement of the safety, functionality, and efficacy of therapeutic IgG antibodies in the era of precision medicine.
IgG Fc engineering to modulate antibody effector functions
Xinhua Wang, Mary Mathieu, Randall J. Brezski
2018, 9(1): 63-73. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0473-8
Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies are among the most effective biotherapeutics to date. An important aspect of antibodies is their ability to bind antigen while at the same time recruit immune effector functions. The majority of approved recombinant monoclonal antibody therapies are of the human IgG1 subclass, which can engage both humoral and cellular components of the immune system. The wealth of information generated about antibodies has afforded investigators the ability to molecularly engineer antibodies to modulate effector functions. Here, we review various antibody engineering efforts intended to improve efficacy and safety relative to the human IgG isotype. Further, we will discuss proposed mechanisms by which engineering approaches led to modified interactions with immune components and provide examples of clinical studies using next generation antibodies.
Molecular and functional analysis of monoclonal antibodies in support of biologics development
Xin Wang, Zhiqiang An, Wenxin Luo, Ningshao Xia, Qinjian Zhao
2018, 9(1): 74-85. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0447-x
Monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapeutics are playing an increasingly important role in the treatment or prevention of many important diseases such as cancers, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Multidomain mAbs are far more complex than small molecule drugs with intrinsic heterogeneities. The critical quality attributes of a given mAb, including structure, post-translational modifications, and functions at biomolecular and cellular levels, need to be defined and profiled in details during the developmental phases of a biologics. These critical quality attributes, outlined in this review, serve an important database for defining the drug properties during commercial production phase as well as post licensure life cycle management. Specially, the molecular characterization, functional assessment, and effector function analysis of mAbs, are reviewed with respect to the critical parameters and the methods used for obtaining them. The three groups of analytical methods are three essential and integral facets making up the whole analytical package for a mAb-based drug. Such a package is critically important for thelicensure andthepost-licensure lifecycle management of a therapeutic or prophylactic biologics. In addition, the basic principles on the evaluation of biosimilar mAbs were discussed briefly based on the recommendations by the World Health Organization.
Current progress in innovative engineered antibodies
R. Strohl William
2018, 9(1): 86-120. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0457-8
As of May 1, 2017, 74 antibody-based molecules have been approved by a regulatory authority in a major market. Additionally, there are 70 and 575 antibodybased molecules in phase Ⅲ and phase I/Ⅱ clinical trials, respectively. These total 719 antibody-based clinical stage molecules include 493 naked IgGs, 87 antibodydrug conjugates, 61 bispecific antibodies, 37 total Fc fusion proteins, 17 radioimmunoglobulins, 13 antibody fragments, and 11 immunocytokines. New uses for these antibodies are being discovered each year. For oncology, many of the exciting new approaches involve antibody modulation of T-cells. There are over 80 antibodies in clinical trials targeting T cell checkpoints, 26 T-cellredirected bispecific antibodies, and 145 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) cell-based candidates (all currently in phase I or Ⅱ clinical trials), totaling more than 250 T cell interacting clinical stage antibody-based candidates. Finally, significant progress has been made recently on routes of delivery, including delivery of proteins across the blood-brain barrier, oral delivery to the gut, delivery to the cellular cytosol, and gene-and viral-based delivery of antibodies. Thus, there are currently at least 864 antibody-based clinical stage molecules or cells, with incredible diversity in how they are constructed and what activities they impart. These are followed by a next wave of novel molecules, approaches, and new methods and routes of delivery, demonstrating that the field of antibody-based biologics is very innovative and diverse in its approaches to fulfill their promise to treat unmet medical needs.
Research article
Potent and conditional redirected T cell killing of tumor cells using Half DVD-Ig
Philip D. Bardwell, Matthew M. Staron, Junjian Liu, Qingfeng Tao, Susanne Scesney, Gail Bukofzer, Luis E. Rodriguez, Chee-Ho Choi, Jennifer Wang, Qing Chang, Feng Dong, Cherrie Donawho, Jieyi Wang, Christine M. Grinnell, Edit Tarcsa, Charles Hutchins, Tariq Ghayur, Jijie Gu
2018, 9(1): 121-129. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0429-z
Novel biologics that redirect cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) to kill tumor cells bearing a tumor associated antigen hold great promise in the clinic. However, the ability to safely and potently target CD3 on CTL toward tumor associated antigens (TAA) expressed on tumor cells remains a challenge of both technology and biology. Herein we describe the use of a Half DVD-Ig format that can redirect CTL to kill tumor cells. Notably, Half DVD-Ig molecules that are monovalent for each specificity demonstrated reduced non-specific CTL activation and conditional CTL activation upon binding to TAA compared to intact tetravalent DVD-Ig molecules that are bivalent for each specificity, while maintaining good drug like properties and appropriate PK properties.
A novel therapeutic anti-HBV antibody with increased binding to human FcRn improves in vivo PK in mice and monkeys
Ciming Kang, Lin Xia, Yuanzhi Chen, Tianying Zhang, Yiwen Wang, Bing Zhou, Min You, Quan Yuan, Chi-Meng Tzeng, Zhiqiang An, Wenxin Luo, Ningshao Xia
2018, 9(1): 130-134. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0438-y
Distinct PD-L1 binding characteristics of therapeutic monoclonal antibody durvalumab
Shuguang Tan, Kefang Liu, Yan Chai, Catherine W. -H. Zhang, Shan Gao, George F. Gao, Jianxun Qi
2018, 9(1): 135-139. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0412-8