Analytical tools for characterizing biopharmaceuticals and the implications for biosimilars

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2012 Jun 29;11(7):527-40. doi: 10.1038/nrd3746.


Biologics such as monoclonal antibodies are much more complex than small-molecule drugs, which raises challenging questions for the development and regulatory evaluation of follow-on versions of such biopharmaceutical products (also known as biosimilars) and their clinical use once patent protection for the pioneering biologic has expired. With the recent introduction of regulatory pathways for follow-on versions of complex biologics, the role of analytical technologies in comparing biosimilars with the corresponding reference product is attracting substantial interest in establishing the development requirements for biosimilars. Here, we discuss the current state of the art in analytical technologies to assess three characteristics of protein biopharmaceuticals that regulatory authorities have identified as being important in development strategies for biosimilars: post-translational modifications, three-dimensional structures and protein aggregation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / chemistry*
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / therapeutic use
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / trends*
  • Humans
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals
  • Peptides