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How far does similarity go?

How much similarity does a biosimilar monoclonal antibody (mAb) have to show to its reference mAb? The European overarching biosimilar guideline states that a biosimilar needs to be ‘similar, in molecular and biological terms, to the active substance of the reference medicinal product.’ The guideline gives an example to highlight this, stating that an interferon alfa-2b would not be acceptable as a reference product to a biosimilar interferon alfa-2a1. Because interferon alfa-2a and alfa-2b differ in only one amino acid, the guideline thus indicates that the entire amino acid sequence of the two molecules should be identical.

The biosimilars challenge

What are the challenges facing biosimilars? This was the question broached in a paper by Professor Håkan Mellstedt of the Department of Oncology, at the Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.

Development of biosimilars mAbs

Is the development of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) possible in Europe? This was the question broached in a paper by Dr Christian Schneider – Chairman of both the Committee for Advanced Therapies and Biosimilar Medicinal Products Working Party and Co-opted member of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

Challenges in the development of biosimilars mAbs

What are the challenges facing development of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in Europe? This was the question broached in a paper by Dr Christian Schneider – Chairman of both the Committee for Advanced Therapies and Biosimilar Medicinal Products Working Party and Co-opted member of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

Phase III study of a new biosimilar filgrastim product (Zarzio) published

A biosimilar recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (filgrastim) (rhG-CSF), Zarzio (Sandoz GmbH), was evaluated in healthy volunteers in four phase I studies and in neutropenic patients in a phase III study.

Phase I studies of a new biosimilar filgrastim product (Zarzio) published

Zarzio (Sandoz GmbH), a biosimilar recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (filgrastim), was evaluated in healthy volunteers in four phase I studies and in neutropenic patients in a phase III study.

Include health economics in development of biosimilars

The early inclusion of health economics in the process of developing biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars is imperative with a view to demonstrating their relative (cost) effectiveness and informing registration, pricing and reimbursement decisions, writes Professor Steven Simoens of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, in the Journal of Medical Economics in 2009.

In the article he discusses health economic challenges of research and development, registration, pricing and reimbursement of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars. Professor Simoens identified relevant studies by searching PubMed, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination databases (Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database, and Health Technology Assessments Database), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and EconLit up to March 2009. Additionally, the bibliography of included studies was checked for other relevant studies.

For complex biosimilars in EU: drop clinical comparability

Clinical trials required by European regulators to compare biosimilar products with corresponding biologic brands are surplus to requirements and may even be a barrier for the development of biosimilars of more complicated biologics, state Professor Huub Schellekens and Dr Ellen Moors of Utrecht University, The Netherlands, in a Nature Biotechnology Commentary of January 2010. “If you look in detail at the accepted and rejected biosimilars and the differences, then you might conclude that proof of clinical equivalence is actually overdue,” comments Professor Arnold Vulto of the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam.

New method for producing human-like glycosylated MAbs

As reported online on 28 February 2010 in Nature Chemical Biology, Professor Lai-Xi Wang, Professor Markus Aebi and colleagues describe a new bacterial method for producing homogeneous eukaryotic N-glycoproteins.

Glycosylation technologies for biosimilars and ‘biobetters’

According to Mr Hans Baumeister and Mr Steffen Goletz of Glycotope, human cell lines providing a human glycosylation pattern – such as those of Crucell (PER.C6), Cevec (CAP) and Glycotope (GlycoExpress) – have attracted increasing amounts of attention over the past years. In the case of biosimilars, regulatory approval now requires an extensive programme of bioequivalence studies to be undertaken to characterise the product in terms of its biochemical properties, safety and activity. As a consequence, glycosylated biosimilars need to be equipped with a similar pattern of glycosylation. For example, the degree of sialylation should not deviate by more than 20% from that of the original product. Hence, the chosen cell clone with high productivity has to be able to provide post-translational modifications as closely related to the originator’s cell line as possible. However, since glycosylation differs within clones, during the bioequivalence study it is often realised that the product carries different carbohydrates, usually resulting in a hyposialylation; this requires the screening process to be repeated in order to identify a new cell clone that is able to provide the equivalent glycosylation. Several glycosylation analysis technologies are available for the development and production of glycosylated biotherapeutics, applicable to both biosimilars and second-generation ‘biobetters’ (see Table 1).

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