Whole antibodies have grabbed a significant share of the global sales revenue as well as the volume of the biopharmaceuticals market. But with recent research and development efforts, it has come to light that the whole or full-length antibodies may always not be needed, or sometimes may not be desirable even for therapeutic use. Antibody fragments come in the picture at this point. For example, anti-tumor antibodies are larger in size and therefore can’t penetrate the tumor, thus affecting their therapeutic value in tumor suppression.
Antibodies are also inappropriate for intracellular targeting sites because of their comparatively larger size. In this case, antibody fragments having specific sequences for the target site is used. Antibody fragments show enhanced penetration due to their smaller size. Antibody fragments can bind at highly specific sites and they can be manufactured or designed without the Fc region thus eliminating immunogenicity. Also, the antibody fragments have low manufacturing cost, high yield in production and extended therapeutic uses.
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Firstly, antibody fragments are segmented into F(ab) fragment and F(ab’)2. A papain digestion of an antibody will yield two F(ab) fragments. F(ab) fragment is a monovalent antibody structure devoid of the Fc region but has an antigen binding site. The F(ab) fragments are used to block the endogenous Ig’s-immunoglobulins. However, F(ab’)2 fragments are obtained through the pepsin digestion of IgG antibody. This digestion will remove most of the Fc region but will keep some of the hinge region intact. This fragment has two antigen binding sites which are attached by disulfide bonds. The F(ab’)2 fragments are smaller in size and thus have better penetration. This antibody fragment also has a better antigen recognition feature, as these antibody fragments avoid unspecific binding. Both of these antibody fragments provide better results in the immunohistochemistry applications.
Antibody fragments have a very vast range of therapeutic applications. The field of antibody fragments applications is just the revised or advanced version of monoclonal antibody therapeutic applications. Antibody fragments are very useful in medical diagnostics; specific antibody fragments are used for disease diagnosis. In some cases, multiple antibody fragments are used to spot antigens specific to cause a particular infectious disease. Antibody fragments are used to treat many immune deficiencies, central nervous system disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. Many antibody fragments are used to treat colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
With increasing incidences of various types of cancers, infectious diseases and in turn immune deficiencies, there is going to be an increasing demand for antibody fragments. Also, an increase in geriatric population has been observed worldwide. Therefore, looking at the application prospects of antibody fragments, the market is likely to boom over the forecast period. Antibody fragments are also expected to be preferred compared to full-chain antibodies as the manufacturing and purification costs of antibody fragments are less. Strict ICD-10 guidelines may restrain the use of some antibody fragments for the treatment of a particular disease. However, new developments in the clinical development of antibody fragments for some of the deadliest diseases can give a massive opportunity for the antibody fragments market over the forecast period.
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The occurrence of cancer and other immunodeficiencies are observed at a higher rate in North America compared to other regions. North America and Europe spend a significant amount of money on drugs and therapies related to cancer. It is estimated that North America is the largest market for antibody fragments, followed by Europe, trailed by Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa. The key players in the antibody fragments market are Novartis AG, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Amgen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, AbbVie Inc., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, Sanofi, Biogen Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co.
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