Dr. Xiaodong Yang (CEO, Apexigen) discussed “Development of Innovative Biotherapeutics driven by Unmet Medical Needs” at Bio2DeviceGroup.org on 2/28/12


There are highly restricted treatment options for certain kinds of cancers.  If we take pancreatic cancer as an example, this deadly cancer each year leads to over 35,000 deaths and treatment options are mostly restricted to surgery and palliative chemotherapy.  Prognosis continues to remain poor and it is often considered to be a graveyard of drug development since many have tried and failed to come up with viable treatment alternatives.  Given the current economic, financial and regulatory environment, it is increasingly becoming necessary that innovation in drug discovery and development is driven by the needs of the patients.

Apexigen is a start-up biopharma company focusing on discovery and development of best-in-class antibody therapeutics, for the treatment of cancer and inflammation.  Apexigen is focused on discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutic antibodies with a deep pipeline with 7 antibody product candidates.  While rabbit antibodies have been used in research and diagnostics, they are not yet tapped for human therapy.  Apexigen is developing humanized monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), which is expected to have better affinity and specificity than other existing antibodies.  Advantages of rabbit mAbs include, great diversity, high affinity and specificity, novel epitopes, cross-species recognition and so on.  Rabbit mAbs can be made for specific cleavage site.

The question then is why rabbits?  There is great diversification of antibody repertoire by gene conversion in rabbits.  Rabbit antibody diversity is much higher than in humans.  The benefits include saving in time, increased success rate, elimination of surrogate Abs, reduced toxicity risk, and accelerated development.  Apexigen has secure and broad IP for antibody technologies and humanization and pipeline candidates.  Apexigen is collaborating with several partners in both product development and technology.

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