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Needle to-needle: Manufacturing neoantigen peptides

Trishul Shah, Director, Business Development of PolyPeptide Laboratories looks at the prospects for individualised peptide therapeutics.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS FOR cancer have mainly used surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation to remove and destroy cancer cells. This means they rely on processes and systems external and foreign to the human biome. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments destroy normal cells as well as cancer cells and they have unpleasant side effects. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, some progress was made through better monitoring and more focused chemotherapy agents. The advent of significantly improved genetic analysis has opened the door to better options. With more understanding of genetic mutations, more individualised treatment can be offered.

One key area of focus is the use of patient-specific neoantigens to generate or enhance an immune response from the patient’s own disease-fighting systems. . Individualised neoantigen peptide cocktails, synthetically manufactured, are now being explored to treat cancer. During this ‘needle-to-needle’ process, the tumour cells undergo a biopsy, the cells are subsequently sequenced and, with the use of bioinformatics, patient-specific neoantigen peptides are predicted. The unique cocktail is then manufactured and administered to treat the specific cancer.

Currently, neoantigen peptide treatments are offered in conjunction with standard, first-in-line, traditional treatments for late-stage cancers. If these new individual treatments prove successful, they could be used as a primary standard of care option for a wide variety of cancers. These therapeutics provide a highly fascinating approach to cancer treatment requiring a pragmatic process for ‘needle-to-needle’. The success of this process depends on close partnerships between stakeholders, including investigators, sponsors, manufacturers and regulatory authorities, to establish an effective and safe pathway.

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