Scientist: Antibodies 'intensely profitable' market

Antibodies highly lucrative as they can be sold for higher amount compared to small chemical drugs and increasingly used by medical fraternity, observes decorated scientist Gregory Winter.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Laboratory-produced antibodies are "intensely profitable" due to the higher prices they command compared to market alternatives, and will make up the top three best-selling pharmaceutical products by 2014, predicted a British scientist.

According to Gregory Winter, antibodies provide a better revenue stream than alternatives such as small chemical drugs, which he pointed out as the former's "main competition".

To support his assertion, Winter stated that the therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAB), for example, was a US$35 billion market in 2008 and mABs took six spots out of the top 20 best-selling pharmaceutical products in that year.

Going forward, mABs will make up six of the top 10 best-selling pharmaceutical products, including the first three positions, the scientist said during an address at the Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker (DTS) Forum held here Wednesday.

Winter was in town to pick up the DTS Award conferred by Exploit Technologies, the marketing and commercialization arm of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), which also organized the DTS Forum.

Winter is most known for pioneering the method to humanize monoclonal antibodies in 1986, and the technique has since been licensed by 50 companies.

Antibody "revolution"
Explaining the clamor for mAB and its economic potential, he attributed the rising interest to the "antibody revolution" currently sweeping the biomedical sciences (BMS) space.

Elaborating, he noted that while the structure of antibodies was discovered in 1975, it was not until 1994 that the first therapeutic antibody was approved for human use.

Despite its slow start, there are now more than 20 therapeutic mABs used in cancer treatments such as breast and blood cancers, immune disorders such as transplantation rejection and viral infections such as respiratory synovial virus.

Winter added that the "antibody story isn't finished", noting that improving science and technology will continue to create new advances and developments.

Innovations such as shrinking antibodies of their large size, as compared to smaller chemical drugs, and enhancing the serum half-life of antibodies, which may improve patience compliance, he said.

Editorial standards