The 2016 European Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation, recognizing excellence in the therapeutic antibody engineering market, was recently awarded to Argenx, a company based in the Netherlands that is developing multiple drug candidates, including one for mesothelioma.
Frost & Sullivan recognized Argenx for its cutting-edge SIMPLE Antibody technology, a discovery platform that offers advantages over conventional antibody discovery platforms due to its extensive epitope recognition, allowing for more precise interaction with disease biology. Epitopes are targets to which an antibody binds with high specificity.
The proprietary technology behind Argenx-issued antibodies relies, surprising, on the assessment of the variable regions of the antibodies’ heavy and light chains (VH and VL domains) found in the Camelidae family, meaning the family of camels, llamas, alpacas and vicugnas.
Contrary to chimeric antibodies, which are engineered by fusing the VH and VL domains from different species, Argenx takes advantage of an extensive structural homology (or, structural similarities) present in VH and VL domains found in camelids compared to those in humans. In essence, argenx turned llamas antibodies into therapeutic antibodies for patients.
“argenx’s ‘humanised’ monoclonal antibody can minimise the immunogenicity of the drug in the patient, the platform can be used to create a host of unique therapeutic antibodies for disease areas that currently lack treatment options,” Madhumitha Rangesa, a Frost & Sullivan research analyst, said in a press release. “One of the main application areas of argenx’s antibodies is cancer, and it has already achieved an impressive degree of success through therapeutic classes such as cancer immunotherapies.”
Argenx’ leading drug candidates include the ARGX-110 SIMPLE Antibody that aims at solid tumors, such as renal cell carcinoma, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma, as well as blood-related carcinomas like T-cell lymphoma.
Other potential treatments in development include ARGX-111, which attacks MET-amplified cancers; ARGX-115, with application to a variety of cancers; and ARGX-113, which is designed to treat autoimmune diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus and myasthenia gravis. Argenx is also looking to develop antibody applications for skin inflammation.
“Another visionary innovation by argenx is a series of Fc engineering complementary technology platforms such as NHance. This proprietary approach is associated with specific mutations that are present in the Fc region of the antibody,” said Rangesa. “NHance can potentially prolong a typical half-life and thereby, reduce the dosage requirements for the patient, making the entire treatment more cost-effective and shorter. NHance does not affect the immunogenicity and the ease of manufacturing of the antibodies, ensuring there are no adverse effects due to its use.”
Each year, the Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation award is given to the company that shows exceptional innovation in developing and leveraging new technologies with the potential to have significantly consumer and and industry value.