ABP-300: A Neutralizing Antibody Treatment for COVID-19
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The biotechnology company Abpro develops next-generation antibody therapies to treat life-threatening diseases. While initially focused on treating indications within the fields of immuno-oncology and ophthalmology, since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the company has also directed its expertise and technologies towards developing therapeutics in the infectious disease space.
Technology Networks recently had the pleasure of speaking with Abpro’s CEO, Ian Chan, to learn more about the company’s research and development pipeline. Chan discusses in detail the development of ABP-300, a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by associating with the virus’s spike protein.
Laura Lansdowne (LL): What is Abpro’s overall mission?
Ian Chan (IC): Abpro’s mission is to deliver the next generation of antibody therapies to allow for versatile and rapid development of potential treatments for severe diseases that are typically difficult to target. Using its DiversImmuneTM platform, Abpro is able to tailor antibodies to a specific target with high affinity at a fast pace, and also design unique features on antibodies that allow for additional benefits, such as those that result in better clinical outcomes like improved efficacy and safety. By developing these antibodies in clinical trials, we hope to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach to antibody development and deliver tangible clinical benefit to patients with severe diseases.
LL: Can you elaborate on some of the key techniques used by Abpro to generate monoclonal antibodies?
IC: Abpro’s platform approach is well established and has been validated in over 300 targets, and was designed with the goal in mind, eliminating a key bottleneck of antibody development; the ability to rapidly generate high affinity and high specificity antibodies against traditionally difficult targets of interest.
The DiversImmune utilizes three key steps in development – Immunization, diversification and optimization.
Immunization includes a variety of technologies to generate the broadest immune response with antibodies against each target and yield the largest collection of antibodies that recognize different epitopes, or binding regions, on the same target protein.
Diversification entails the collection and screening of large panels of monoclonal antibodies that have the desired therapeutic properties, using the latest in antibody technologies and techniques. Over 50 million cells can be screened in 2–3 days, representing one of the highest speeds in the industry.
Optimization. Once the initial antibodies are created, these comprise the building blocks to create the therapy needed. Each disease area is unique and has specific requirements. Our platform is able to then fine tune the antibodies to create optimum characteristics for each disease area.
LL: How has the company’s R&D pipeline focus shifted since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2? What next-generation antibody product candidates are you developing in the area of infectious disease?
IC: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Abpro’s pipeline focus was primarily targeted toward cancer and ophthalmology. When COVID-19 emerged as a real threat to society, we saw the potential of our versatile and rapid platform as something that could be leveraged to deliver benefit to the pandemic by applying an antibody approach to neutralizing the virus. We felt a responsibility to pivot and direct our efforts toward developing a solution with the tools we have, so that even after the advent of vaccines, patients could have an acute COVID-19 treatment that can safely neutralize the activity of the virus in vivo.
We quickly designed and developed a program for COVID 19, which is our 300 series of molecules. These target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that neutralizes the virus’ ability to infect epithelial lung cells. After initiating Phase 1 clinical trials in the summer of 2020, ABP300 is now entering Phase 2/3 registrational studies to study its efficacy in approximately 2,000 human subjects.
LL: Can you tell us more about ABP-300’s mechanism of action, how does it neutralize COVID-19?
IC: Abpro’s agile platform has allowed it to quickly mobilize a response to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing ABP-300, a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus in vivo by binding to its spike protein and has demonstrated better binding affinity in preclinical trials than any known COVID-19 antibody in clinical trials. Our course of treatment also allows it to bind to a broad number of mutant variants.
LL: Can you provide an update on ABP-300’s clinical development, what data do you have so far?
IC: ABP-300 has demonstrated positive Phase 1 data so far, including safety. We have also demonstrated broad efficacy in therapeutic and prophylactic settings. The Phase 2/3 set of studies is underway with patients dosed.
Abpro also has a diverse pipeline of antibody therapeutics comprised of three investigational new drug (IND)-enabled assets, including bispecific antibodies targeting a wide range of traditionally challenging disease-causing cells. Our DiversImmune platform has generated a highly selective binding antibody for gastric tumors, a bispecific VEGF/ANG2 antibody engineered to improve efficacy and durability for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration/diabetic macular edema (AMD/DME) and a precisely tailored bispecific T-cell engager for HER2-expressing solid tumors. We have exclusive-majority or full commercialization rights to our robust pipeline and are open to engaging in strategic partnerships. We continue to identify new opportunities to leverage our well-established platform to develop therapeutic antibodies for challenging disease targets. Indications we are exploring include liver cancer and cancer with our ABP-110 and ABP-160 candidates, respectively.
Ian Chan was speaking with Laura Lansdowne, Managing Editor for Technology Networks.