The development of anti-drug antibodies (ADAs) following administration of biotherapeutics to patients is a vexing problem that is attracting increasing attention from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This serious clinical problem is also spawning creative research into novel approaches to predict, avoid, and in some cases even reverse such deleterious immune responses. CD4+ T cells are essential players in the development of most ADAs, while memory B-cell and long-lived plasma cells amplify and maintain these responses. This review summarizes methods to predict and experimentally identify T-cell and B-cell epitopes in therapeutic proteins, with a particular focus on blood coagulation factor VIII (FVIII), whose immunogenicity is clinically significant and is the subject of intensive current research. Methods to phenotype ADA responses in humans are described, including T-cell stimulation assays, and both established and novel approaches to determine the titers, epitopes and isotypes of the ADAs themselves. Although rational protein engineering can reduce the immunogenicity of many biotherapeutics, complementary, novel approaches to induce specific tolerance, especially during initial exposures, are expected to play significant roles in future efforts to reduce or reverse these unwanted immune responses.
- Anti-drug antibodies