Absci Corp describes itself as an AI-powered integrated drug creation platform. The company creates protein-based drugs (biologics) by unifying biologic drug discovery and cell line development into one process. This places Absci squarely under the umbrella of synthetic biology.
The challenge in next-generation biologics is the linear steps needed to screen and select desired molecular parts and reformat them into their final protein scaffold and the subsequent laborious and often unsuccessful development of a suitable manufacturing cell line. The company is aiming to transform the biologic discovery and cell line development process by rapidly screening up to billions of drug candidates in the desired final protein scaffold.
According to the company, its platform integrates this fragmented set of processes and bypasses the molecular reformatting and cell line development challenges that can lead to inefficiencies and failures. High-throughput single cell assays can evaluate billions of drug sequence variants, each within its production cell line, for target binding affinity, protein quality, and production level (titer). The resulting large datasets are trained and refined to guide protein and cell line designs – and to enable in silico optimization of multiple attributes.
Absci believes its platform is the only commercially available solution that allows for high-throughput screening for simultaneous biologic drug discovery and cell line development for next-generation biologics. Its goal is to become the leading partner for biologic drug discovery and cell line development in the biopharmaceutical industry. The company started out manufacturing E.Coli in 2011 and then moved on to printing proteins.
Total revenue increased 132% to $4.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to $2.1 million for 2019, due to the increased scale and volume of new and ongoing programs.
The company has drug candidates in nine active programs (across seven current partners’ preclinical or clinical pipelines) for which it has negotiated, or expects to negotiate upon completion of certain technology development activities, license agreements with potential downstream milestone payments and royalties. Eight of its active programs are focused on developing production cell lines for drug candidates that our partners (including Merck, Astellas, Alpha Cancer Technologies, and other undisclosed biotechnology companies) are developing (five preclinical, one Phase 1, one Phase 3, and one animal health), reflecting the 2018 commercial launch of the company’s cell line development (CLD) applications.
Absci has one Discovery program under way, focused on lead optimization with Astellas, which it signed shortly after the December 2020 expansion of its platform to include its initial discovery applications. [The company defines “active programs” as programs that are subject to ongoing technology development activities intended to determine if the program can be pursued by its partner for future clinical development, as well as any program for which its partner obtains and maintains a license to its technology to advance the program after completion of the technology development phase.]
According to the company, its market opportunity is driven by the number of biologic candidates we generate and the successful development and commercialization of these candidates by our partners. As reflected in aggregated data from EvaluatePharma® [April, 2021] Evaluate Ltd. (Evaluate Pharma data), there are currently 1,250 companies involved in developing and marketing over 4,950 protein-based biologics, which the company defines as including candidates categorized as monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), monoclonal antibody conjugates (ADCs), and recombinant products (comprising novel fusion proteins as well as numerous conventional recombinant proteins, peptides, and hormones), but excluding those categorized as cell therapies, DNA and RNA based therapies, gene therapies, plasma-derived therapies, and vaccines.
In 2020, cumulative global sales of these protein-based biologics reached approximately $254 billion, representing 33% of the sales of all drugs. In 2020, 72 protein-based biologics reached blockbuster status with annual worldwide sales higher than $1.0 billion, according to the company. Of the total protein-based biologics sales, mAbs represent approximately 63%, with average per product peak sales of $2.7 billion (median $1.3 billion).
The protein-based biologics market is expected to reach $418 billion by 2026, representing a compound annual growth rate of approximately 9%. In the near term, Absci is focused on the next-generation biologics market, which its estimates, based on our analysis of Evaluate Pharma data, to represent approximately 32% of protein-based biologics in Phase 1 clinical development. The company estimates next-generation biologics represent a similar proportion of the 2,539 preclinical protein-based biologics. While its integrated drug creation platform is suited to generation of any type of protein-based biologic, the company believes its capabilities are especially differentiated in the area of next-generation biologics. Absci expects its future programs to be principally in this category as it seeks to provide an avenue to expand the number and variety of next-generation biologics in development by its existing and future partners, including with the addition of nsAA-containing bionic proteins to their pipelines.
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