Between 26 – 28 April this year, Oxford Global held its Biologics Europe: Online, consisting of the Proteins & Antibodies Congress, Peptides Congress and the Oligonucleotides Symposium. The virtual congress and exhibition ran over 3 days and showcased a range of industry-leading keynotes, 4 live panel discussions, 4 engaging workshops, 18 Q&A sessions, and 13 roundtable events. Every year our Biologics event series brings together the senior decision-makers from industry, biotech and academia.
2021’s event compromised of over 500 senior attendees from leading pharmaceutical and solution provider companies, as well as academic representatives from some of Europe’s top research institutions.
The event consisted of five key focus areas: Proteins, Antibodies, Peptides, Bispecifics, and Oligios, and featured over 50 on-demand sessions. Focused sessions led by thought leaders covered topics relating to the latest market developments and industry challenges, as well as future growth potential. Key speakers included Bruce Carpick (Sanofi Pasteur), Amita Datta-Mannan (Eli Lilly), Kevin McDonnell (Bicycle Therapeutics), Mack Flinspach (Takeda), Katharina Billian-Frey (Apogenix), and Punit Seth (Ionis Pharmaceuticals). In this post-event report, we have gathered some of the highlights from the events, including benefits of attending the conference, a summary of the key topic area discussed, and the major trends facing the Biologics industry today. Whether you joined us for the Biologics Europe: Online event, or want to find out what you missed, we hope this report will encourage you to join us at our hybrid Biologics UK event.
Benefits to Attending:
Benefits to attending Biologics Europe included the opportunity to discuss the latest developments and platforms in engineering antibodies, ADCs and bispecifis, as well as emerging computational technologies such as AI and Machine Learning. Delegates were also able to expand their knowledge and find solutions to various challenges facing bioanalysis. These included advanced characterisation, and stability updates, as well as PKPD and the hurdles facing immunogenicity. The event mapped out the latest developments of bispecific antibodies, in addition to that of computer-aided design, purification, and analysis. Delegates were also able to hear about a variety of peptide therapeutic case studies in areas ranging from metabolic disorders to oncology. And the virtual mingling sessions provided the perfect networking opportunity.
Our Oligonucleotides virtual symposium hosted various meet-and-greets and interactive live Q&As with the leading figures in oligonucleotides chemistry and therapeutics. By gaining insight into the latest synthesis technology and analytical developments, the event provided an opportunity for scientists and industry experts to advance their research and share new ideas. Panel discussions highlighted the key challenges and market trends affecting the latest research into the therapeutic potentials of oligonucleotides, and how best to optimise both their oncological and miRNA application.
Key Topic Areas: Proteins and Antibodies, Bispecifics, Peptides, and Oligonucleotides
Protein and Antibodies: Key topic areas within the Proteins and Antibodies track included innovative engineering techniques, developability, ADCS, and alternative antibody display technologies. Vaccine development technologies were also a focal point of the discussions. The most popular presentation, with 78 views, was solution provider Lonza’s talk on protein expression. Entitled, ‘Right First Time: Optimise And De-Risk Your Early Development Journey’, Lonza’s Head of Immunology spoke of the need to minimise guesswork during the early drug discovery stage. Lonza highlighted how in silico and in vitro protein design can advance developability by making protein and antibody-based therapies both safer and more efficient. The second most popular presentation; ‘Strategies And Tools To Maximise Successful Development Of Cell Lines Expressing More Complex Proteins’, discussed the need for a multi-faceted engineering approach to Next Generation Biologics. This received 75 views and was presented by the Head of Expression Systems at Lonza.
Bispecifics: The Bispecifics track took an in-depth look at bispecifics novel discovery and platform development, as well as T-Cell re-direction and T-Cell-engaging molecules and strategies. Merus’s ‘Multiclonics Antibody Platform For Discovery Of Novel Therapeutics’ talk received a total of 61 views. In discussing multispecific antibodies based on the human light chain concept, the Director of Antibody Discovery at Merus presented their cutting-edge platform created to optimise the engineering of potent multispecific antibody molecules. The panel discussion, ‘Bispecific Antibodies Come To The Force’ was the second-best viewed session. Moderated by the Vice President of Alligator Biosciences, the team of panellists were made up of key industry figureheads. These companies included Roche Glycart AG, PIERIS, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sartorius Corporation. It reached over 60 views and looked at the rapidity to which bispecific drugs, particularly those developed for oncological treatment, are entering clinical studies. Key discussion points covered the use of indication and binder selection, how translational model evaluate efficacy and safety, and whether the industry should narrow down bispecific formats.
Peptides: Within the Peptides track, principal topic areas included peptide chemistry, synthesis, and analytical development. Featured case study presentations looked at the use of bispecific therapeutics for metabolic disorders, immunology, and immune-oncology. Gyros Protein Technologie’s presentation on how peptide-based epitopes and therapeutics are synthesised for COVID-19 provided a fascinating insight into peptides chemistry. The talk, ‘Considerations For Optimising High-Throughput Synthesis Of SARS-CoV-2 Peptides For Epitope Analysis’, racked in an impressive 94 views, making it the most popular session of the entire Biologics Eu event. Bachem’s spotlight presentation on their latest innovations in engineering microspheres and nanoparticles for peptide delivery also attracted a considerable audience. The ‘Spotlight On New Technologies’ session received 80 + views and touched on Bachem’s molecule Hiving technologies, as well as their latest venture into process developments of oligonucleotides and NCEs.
Oligonucleotides: Finally, the co-located Oligonucleotides: Chemistry & Therapeutics Symposium provided an in-depth analysis of the pressing challenges and opportunities in oligo chemistry, analytical development, and miRNA therapeutics. Among its most noteworthy sessions was the AstraZeneca keynote address and the industry presentation led by Biogen. AstraZeneca’s address, ‘Characterisation Of Therapeutic Oligonucleotides In Early Drug Discovery’ spoke of challenges in LC-MS characterisation of oligonucleotides. The presentation received 90 views and provided interesting industry examples that illustrated both high-throughput and in-depth characterisation of synthetic oligonucleotides. Biogen’s ‘Drive To A More Sustainable Synthesis Of Large-Scale Oligonucleotides’ gained over 80 views. Discussing the drawbacks of using solid-phase synthesis processing to meet large-scale manufacturing demands, the industry presentation proposed a liquid phase synthesis as a more practical and scalable design process.
Market Trends: Compuatational Engineering, Vaccinology, and ADCS
Computational Engineering: During the post-event advisory meeting, board members from both leading industries and research institutions discussed the expected key trends facing the biologics market. The top three trends identified were: computational and digitised engineering tools, vaccine development, and the renewed interest in ADCs. Computational engineering or augmented intelligence is a relatively novel discipline in the world of biotherapeutic manufacturing and refers to the development and optimisation of therapeutics using computer-based software. In biologic drug production, computational techniques can be used to assist in the discovery of these therapies by imitating the pre-established design process and synthesis of these biological components. Computation engineering is divided into two main strands: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Trying to understand the opportunities that lie within these modalities of rational design is set to become an important and rapidly increasing area of interest. This is not only due to its potential to accelerate mass-scale manufacturing needs, but also the cross-disciplinary prospects it holds for other areas of drug and scientific discovery.
Vaccinology: Non-surprisingly we can also expect to see a vaccine renaissance occurring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global race for inoculation, our board members predict that conversations around the use of innovative technology in vaccine discovery will set a precedent in biologics research. It will be the versatility of the vaccine that likely be under discussion. Will these vaccines be able to withstand viral evolution? As new variants of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerge, vaccine developers will have to work to create booster doses to fight its various strains and provide a long-immune response. Much like with other viral infections such as influenza and the flu, where multiple strains mutate every year, the COVID-19 vaccines will have to undergo continual redesign. The rate of deliverability and manufacturing, as well as cost, will prove an area of concern.
ADCs: According to one board member, the plethora of incoming ADC programmes being approved for the market will produce a renewed interest in the enabling strategies of ADCs. Focus and conversation will pertain to developing the right type of models in the preclinical stage. For example, what happens when data obtained from an animal model in the preclinical stage is encouraging? How representative is it? What happens if it is misleading? As an evolving field, the stability of complex and correct conjugation chemistry remains a developing art. ADC imaging is also a maturing technique used in Biologics discovery. Mass spectrometry imaging is a tool that enables visualisation of the spatial distribution of molecular products to predict the location and movement of cancerous matter. As a non-invasive form of imaging, this tool could be set to transform oncological practices in modern medicine.
These market trends and the important insights provided by the advisory board will inform the structure and content of our next annual Biologics Europe event. In the meantime, however, we hope you can join us at Biologics UK: In-Person on the 6th and 7th September 2021.