Broad Practical Advantages
Above and beyond the compounds CovX currently has in development, chemically programmed antibodies could offer a method for developing therapeutics to fight a broad range of diseases.
"A single antibody can become a whole multiplicity of therapeutics simply by mixing it with the desired small molecule or peptide," said Barbas. "It's a kind of engine to make drugs, which is typically hard to find. It's a whole new and counterintuitive way to look at antibodies."
This approach also offers a number of practical advantages for drug development, which could prove key given the economic realities facing the pharmaceutical industry.
The first advantage is that chemically programmed antibodies offer the possibility of rescuing the hundreds of compounds that exist which were initially developed as drugs, but then later abandoned due to problems arising from a short half-life in the bloodstream. Alternatively, the technique could provide killing function to compounds that bind to diseased cells but that did not inflict sufficient damage to be developed into therapies.
Another upside to the chemically programmed antibody approach is that it could speed drug development and reduce the cost of bringing these drugs to market. In contrast to developing specific antibodies against each target, developing only one protein therapeutic, then mixing it with a new small molecule or peptide, enables the antibody to be optimized once, then produced on a large scale.
The recent decision to seek buyers for CoxX was spurred in part by the realization of the huge potential of the chemically programmed antibody approach, and the financing required to fully realize that potential.
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute