The following is an interview with Carl Hansen, Chairman, CEO & President at AbCellera. To learn more about the field of antibodies and what AbCellera is bringing to the life sciences industry, register for AbCellera R&D Day on November 14, 2023 in the MassBioHub.
For those who might not know, what do you see as the key drivers of change in the field of biologics over the last 20 years?
Within the field of biologics, antibody medicines have become one of the largest and fastest growing classes of drug, thus making a major impact on patient health. Antibody medicines are used across multiple therapeutic areas, such as oncology, inflammation, infectious disease, ophthalmology, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and neurodegeneration.
As the industry matures, the challenges associated with developing innovative antibody medicines are getting harder. Over the past 5 years, more than 25% of approved antibody drugs were for challenging modalities and targets such as antibody drug conjugates and bispecifics, compared to about 15% in the 5 years prior. Novel targets, modalities and innovative targeting strategies will be needed to succeed in these programs and improve the lives of patients.
What should innovators know about successfully bringing biologics to the clinic?
The process of developing drugs is complex and highly regulated, and as a result product development timelines are long. Historically, it has taken more than 10 years for the average biologic drug to go from early discovery to reach the market, at a cost of well over $1 billion (inclusive of the research and development costs of drugs which do not reach the market).
With the number of challenging programs projected to increase in the coming years, efficient development of antibody drugs will increasingly require the integration of highly specialized skills, technology, and infrastructure – something that few firms are able to do successfully.
AbCellera has developed technology platforms to unlock high-value drug classes and targets, including T-cell engagers for cancer and transmembrane proteins for a broad range of conditions, including pain, cardiovascular disease and more.
What does AbCellera bring to the industry?
Over the past decade AbCellera has been building an engine that is capable of repeatedly generating potential first-in-class and best-in-class antibody medicines.
Today, AbCellera is focussed on bringing innovative medicines to the clinic, and patients, faster by advancing its internal pipeline of programs and partnering strategically with companies that have novel science or innovative technology.
Since 2015, AbCellera has worked with more than 40 partners on 100+ antibody drug programs, with 10 candidates reaching the clinic to date. AbCellera’s internal pipeline includes two preclinical programs, ABCL575 and ABCL635, that are advancing into IND-enabling studies. ABCL575 targets OX40 ligand and is being developed as a potential best-in-class therapy for the treatment of atopic dermatitis and other indications in autoimmunity and inflammation. ABCL635 is a potential first-in-class therapy focused on an undisclosed target with an indication in metabolic and endocrine conditions. AbCellera anticipates IND submissions for both ABCL575 and ABCL635 in 2025.