Characterization of immunogenicity response to multiple domain biotherapeutics

Recommendations for the characterization of immunogenicity response to multiple domain biotherapeutics.
Gorovits B, Wakshull E, Pillutla R, Xu Y, Manning MS, Goyal J
J Immunol Methods. 2014 Jun;408:1-12
Many biotherapeutics currently in development have complex mechanisms of action and contain more than one domain, each with a specific role or function. Examples include antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), PEGylated, fusion proteins and bi-specific antibodies. As with any biotherapeutic molecule, a multi-domain biotherapeutic (MDB) can elicit immune responses resulting in the production of specific anti-drug antibodies (ADA) when administered to patients. As it is beneficial to align industry standards for evaluating immunogenicity of MDBs, this paper highlights pertinent immunogenicity risk factors and describes steps involved in the design of a testing strategy to detect and characterize binding (non-neutralizing and neutralizing, NAb) ADAs. In a common tier based approach, samples identified as ADA screen positive are confirmed for the binding specificity of the antibodies to the drug molecule via a confirmatory assay. The confirmation of specificity is generally considered as a critical step of the tier based approach in overall ADA response evaluation. Further characterization of domain specificity of polyclonal anti-MDB ADA response may be required based on the analysis of molecule specific risk factors. A risk based approach in evaluating the presence of NAbs for MDB is discussed in this article. Analysis of domain-specific neutralizing antibody reactivity should be based on the risk assessment as well as the information learned during binding ADA evaluation. Situations where additional characterization of NAb specificity is possible and justified are discussed. Case studies demonstrating the applicability of the risk factor-based approach are presented. In general, the presence of a domain with high immunogenicity risk or presence of a domain with high endogenous protein homology may result in an overall high immunogenicity risk level for the entire MDB and can benefit from domain specificity characterization of immune response. For low immunogenicity risk MDBs, domain specificity characterization could be re-considered at later clinical phases based on the need to explain specific clinical observations. Inclusion of domain specificity characterization in early phase clinical studies for MDBs with limited clinical immunogenicity experience may be considered to help understand its value in later clinical development. It is beneficial and is recommended to have a well-defined plan for the characterization of ADA domain specificity and data analysis prior to the initiation of sample testing. Overall, best practices for immunogenicity evaluation of complex MDBs are discussed.