Outsourcing Antibody Discovery Process: The Profit-Driven Approach to Research

Imagine a world where scientists work together to create special “soldiers” in our bodies called antibodies. These heroes help to fight diseases. Sometimes, scientists ask for help from experts who are really good at finding and designing these antibodies. These experts are like the superhero squad for medical research. They provide their antibody discovery services to find the right antibodies that can target specific targets. This helps to speed up the process of making new medicines and finding cures for diseases. This teamwork / alliance saves a lot of time and energy, letting scientists focus on other important jobs of their work.

With the rising demand for antibody therapeutics in the recent past, the domain of antibody discovery has seen a significant market growth towards outsourcing. Companies are now turning to contract research organizations to help accelerate their workflow. This expected shift can be attributed to various reasons, such as the need for optimized research / discovery services, cost saving, focused expertise and more.

With the complexities and demands for modern drug development, an increasing number of companies are turning to outsourcing as a strategic solution to streamline their research efforts. This article delves into the transformative potential of outsourcing antibody discovery services, highlighting the benefits, cutting-edge technologies, and success stories that are reshaping the industry.

Below, I have pasted a figure that depicts various steps involved in the discovery of antibodies, from the selection of a viable molecular target to the selection of a clinical candidate.

Antibody Discovery Process

What are the steps involved in an antibody discovery project?

  • Target Validation: The first step in the discovery of a therapeutic antibody is the selection of a target, which, when modified by the antibody, is expected to result in a beneficial clinical outcome. Selection of an appropriate target can be done through a number of several ways. For example, a target can be selected by reviewing the published literature and choosing a molecule that has been proven to play a role in the initiation / propagation of the disease.
  • Hit Generation: Antibody candidates generated against validated targets, at the beginning of providing antibody discovery services, are called hits. Various methods can be used for the generation of these early antibody candidates. Examples of such methods include hybridoma technology, phage display, yeast display, mammalian display, ribosomal display and single cell approaches.
  • Lead Selection: In the lead selection step, early hits generated using various antibody discovery methods are examined in a screening process of multiple steps. This helps in the selection of potent and selective lead molecules that meet pre-established criteria for progressing on to the next stage.
  • Lead Optimization: The lead molecule selected during the initial screening process usually requires additional steps in order to impart effective properties to it before it can be selected as a clinical candidate. Some of the common lead optimization practices include humanization of non-human antibodies, affinity maturation and Fc engineering.
  • Humanization: In many cases, discovered antibodies are highly immunogenic and may cause unwanted / exaggerated immune response in the hosts. In order to cope with this phenomenon, humanization is a widely used technique for the reduction of the immunogenicity of a therapeutic antibody derived from rodents or other non-human sources.
  • Affinity Maturation: The strength of the binding interaction between an antibody and its target is referred to as Affinity. High affinity antibodies are capable of elicit a strong binding to their respective antigens, permitting greater sensitivities in assays, whereas low affinity antibodies bind weakly to the antigen. In order to enhance this binding strength, a process named affinity maturation is used to enhance the affinity, avidity, and anti-pathogen activity of antibodies.
  • Candidate Selection: Antibodies having the required functional and molecular attributes are referred to as therapeutic antibody candidates. During this process, a series of stringent assessments are performed on the optimized lead molecule in order to decide whether or not it qualifies as a clinical candidate.

I, recently, worked on a market research report, titled Antibody Discovery Services and Platforms Market (5th Edition), 2023-2035. During research, I could identify over 350 antibody discovery companies that offer antibody discovery services and antibody discovery platforms. In this article, I have evaluated the overall landscape of antibody CRO that are engaged in providing antibody discovery services, as well as the key drivers shaping up this segment of the market.

Majority of the service providers offer hit generation services

Hit generation emerged as the most popular service provided by antibody discovery service providers. It is worth mentioning that the hit generation service usually constitutes the majority (~40%) of an antibody discovery operation. Further, we could identify a number of service providers that claimed to operate as a one-stop-shop, offering all the aforementioned antibody discovery services; some of the prominent examples include (in alphabetical order) Abgenex, Abnova, Alloy Therapeutics and Biomolecular Discovery Services.

Distribution by Type of Service Offered


Monoclonal antibodies appeared as the most popular antibody format being discovered by service providers

Distribution by Type of Antibody Discovered

The above trend is most likely due to the growing acceptance of monoclonal antibodies by the FDA; it is worth mentioning that there are over 120 monoclonal antibodies that have already been approved by the FDA. , So far, monoclonal antibodies have been the fastest growing segment in the this industry, however, other antibody formats, such as polyclonal antibodies, bispecific antibodies, single domain antibodies, antibody drug conjugates and antibody fragments, are gradually gaining acceptance from clients.

Analyzing Future Opportunities for Antibody Discovery Service Providers

In future, the antibody discovery domain is expected to hold immense potential for further breakthroughs. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are likely to play a pivotal role, enabling the prediction of antibody-antigen interactions and enhancing the efficiency of lead identification. As our understanding deepens and technologies continue to evolve, the potential to use the power of antibodies for the treatment of various healthcare conditions looks both promising and inspiring.

Further, based on the secondary research I performed while working on this project, I expect that we’ll see a rise in demand for tailored antibodies that are specifically designed for a patient. Advanced treatments, particularly those that focus on the body’s immune system, will require a diverse array of antibodies for research and medicine production. Antibody discovery will play a pivotal role in this ongoing effort for development of antibody-based vaccines, especially for emerging diseases.

Advancements in tools and methodologies will expedite the process of finding and enhancing antibodies. During the event of emerging of new diseases, rapid antibody discovery will be crucial in improving the time required to market a drug for approval. In addition, utilization of sophisticated computer-aided drug discovery tools by players engaged in this market is expected to streamline the process of discovering effective antibodies.

For detailed insights about this domain, check out our report on Antibody Discovery Services and Platforms

Author’s Bio

Gaurav Raj Bangarh is a business research analyst and competitive intelligence professional. He is highly skilled at generating useful insights from unstructured / structured datasets. As a senior analyst at Roots Analysis, Gaurav has assisted several clients across multiple industry verticals within the healthcare domain. These verticals include, medical devices / technologies, digital healthcare services and various drugs / disease indications.

Gaurav holds a B. Tech degree in Biotechnology from Lovely Professional University. In addition to working on market research and pharmaceutical business analysis, he has hands-on laboratory experience and has worked at esteemed research institutes of India, such as CSIR-CFTRI, Mysore. To date, he has contributed to over seven full length market research projects.

Email: gaurav.raj@rootsanalysis.org

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gaurav-bangarh/