Recombinant therapeutic proteins: production platforms and challenges

Biotechnol J. 2008 Jan;3(1):90-7. doi: 10.1002/biot.200700214.


Since the approval of insulin in 1982, more than 120 recombinant drug substances have been approved and become available as extremely valuable therapeutic options. Exact copying of the most common human form is no longer a value per se, as challenges, primarily related to the pharmacokinetics of artificial recombinant drugs, can be overcome by diverging from the original. However, relatively minor changes in manufacturing or packaging may impact safety of therapeutic proteins. A major achievement is the development of recombinant proteins capable of entering a cell. Such drugs open up completely new opportunities by targeting intracellular mechanisms or by substituting intracellularly operating enzymes. Concerns that protein variants would cause an intolerable immune response turned out to be exaggerated. Although most recombinant drugs provoke some immune response, they are still well tolerated. This knowledge might result in a change in attitude towards antibody formation, i.e., neutralizing antibody activity (in vitro) may be overcome by dosing consistently on the basis of antibody titers and not only on body weight. As with other drugs, efficacy and safety of therapeutic proteins have to be demonstrated in clinical studies, and superiority over available products has to be proven instead of just claimed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Technical Report

MeSH terms

  • Drug Compounding / methods*
  • Drug Compounding / trends*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / trends*
  • Protein Engineering / methods*
  • Protein Engineering / trends*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use*


  • Recombinant Proteins