Therapeutic antibodies

Therapeutic antibodies – the future of biopharmaceuticals

by Ryan Mateja, PhD

In 2007, eight of the 20 best-selling biotechnology drugs in the U.S. were therapeutic monoclonal antibodies [1]. Sales of antibodies in 2013 was 75 billion globally, which at the time was approximately half of the total sales of all biopharmaceutical [2]. What are therapeutic antibodies and why are they so attractive to biopharmaceutical companies?

How they work: Targeting

Many therapies for cancer involve the delivery of cytotoxic agents to cancer cells in order to kill the cancerous cells. The main problem with this approach has always been that these methods are non-specific and also kill healthy cells in the process. The collateral damage to healthy tissue is what contributes to many of the negative side-effects so well-known with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Monoclonal antibodies on the other hand, allow specific targeting of cancer cells, stimulating a patient’s immune system to attack only those cells. Furthermore, drugs can be delivered to specific cells with the use of antibody-drug conjugates, again affecting healthy cells less severely. Even more recently, bispecific, or dual variable domain antibodies are being researched. This allows the use of two monoclonal antibodies that can bind to two different types of antigen. The ability to target two antigens can be used to increase cytotoxic potential to antigens expressed weakly, or to target two different mechanisms in more complex diseases.

Why is targeting so attractive to businesses?

In addition to the clear benefits of targeted therapies using monoclonal antibodies, there are relatively lower risks than other drugs and this has not gone unnoticed by drug companies. Due to being highly specific, antibody therapies are well-tolerated in clinical trials and have a lower risk of unexpected safety concerns compared to other types of therapeutic products. This allows antibody therapies to quickly move through clinical trials and get marketed; meaning products that first show proof-of-concept also become the first to be marketed. Additionally, therapeutic antibodies are not limited to cancer treatments, but they can be customized to target nearly any extracellular or cell surface target. This opens the door to nearly an endless amount of approved indications, which currently include cardiovascular disease, many auto immune disorders and transplant rejection. Research is already underway investigating therapeutic antibody approaches for neurodegenerative diseases and even Ebola [3].


With a current approval rate of four products per year and a predicted 70 monoclonal antibody products on the market by 2020 [2] , biotech companies across the globe are, and will continue to be, in competition with each other to find investors. How does a company increase awareness to attract interested parties? How can a company tilt the scales in their favor to secure potential investors? The answer to both is biomedical animation with 3D videos and illustrations. 2D images of drug mechanisms are not very exciting and, quite frankly, a thing of the past. The best way to convey the complexities of innovative pharmaceutical drugs and also engage potential investors is through a video showing your drug traveling through a blood vessel and delivering its contents to the appropriate target, and the resulting immune response that eliminates cancerous cells from the body. Why tell people the complicated mechanisms of the action of your product, when you can show them a visually stunning 3D animation that will explain it to them?

Please contact Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics to find out how we can help you!



[1] Scolnik PA. mAbs: a business perspective. MAbs. 2009 Mar-Apr;1(2):179-84.

[2] Ecker DM, Jones SD, Levine HL. The therapeutic monoclonal antibody market. MAbs. 2015;7(1):9-14.

[3] Olinger GG Jr., Pettitt J, Kim D, et al. Delayed treatment of Ebola virus infection with plant-derived monoclonal antibodies provides protection in rhesus macaques Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 30; 109(44): 18030–18035.