Therapeutic protein products provide unique and effective treatments for numerous human diseases and medical conditions. In many cases, these treatments are used chronically to slow disease progression, reduce morbidity and/or to replace essential proteins that are not produced endogenously in patients. Therefore, any factor that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the treatment can lead to patient suffering and even death. One means by which efficacy of therapeutic proteins can be compromised is by an immune response, resulting in antibody-mediated neutralization of the protein’s activity or alterations in bioavailability.1,2 For example, in the case of treatment of hemophilia A, neutralizing antibodies to Factor VIII can cause life-threatening bleeding episodes, resulting in significant morbidity and necessitating treatment with a prolonged course of a tolerance-inducing therapy to reverse immunity.3,4 In other cases, drug-induced antibodies to a therapeutic version of an endogenous protein can cross-react with and neutralize the patient’s endogenous protein. If the endogenous protein serves a non-redundant biological function, such an immune response can have devastating results. For example, pure red cell aplasia can result from neutralizing antibodies to epoetin alpha. 1,2 It is well established that protein aggregates in therapeutic protein products can enhance immunogenicity2, and such an effect is therefore an important risk factor to consider when assessing product quality. The purpose of this commentary is to accomplish the following: i. provide brief summaries on the factors affecting protein aggregation and the key aspects of protein aggregates that are associated with immunogenicity; ii. emphasize the current scientific gaps in understanding and analytical limitations for quantitation of species of large protein aggregates that are referred to as subvisible particles, with specific consideration of those particles 0.1–10 μm in size; iii. offer a rationale for why these gaps may compromise the safety and/or efficacy of a product; iv. provide scientifically sound, risked based recommendations/conclusions for assessment and control of such aggregate species.
Carpenter, J. F., Randolph, T. W., Jiskoot, W., Crommelin, D. J. A., Middaugh, C. R., Winter, G., … Cherney, B. (2009). Overlooking Subvisible Particles in Therapeutic Protein Products: Gaps that may Compromise Product Quality. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 98(4), 1201–1205. http://doi.org/10.1002/jps.21530