Challenges and opportunities in absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion studies of therapeutic biologics

AAPS J. 2012 Dec;14(4):781-91. doi: 10.1208/s12248-012-9388-8. Epub 2012 Aug 4.


With the advancement of biotechnology in the last two decades, optimized and novel modalities and platforms of biologic moieties have emerged rapidly in drug discovery pipelines. In addition, new technologies for delivering therapeutic biologics (e.g., needle-free devices, nanoparticle complexes), as well as novel approaches for disease treatments (e.g., stem cell therapy, individualized medicine), continue to be developed. While pharmacokinetic studies are routinely carried out for therapeutic biologics, experiments that elucidate underlying mechanisms for clearance and biodistribution or identify key factors that govern absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of biologics often are not thoroughly conducted. Realizing the importance of biologics as therapeutic agents, pharmaceutical industry has recently begun to move the research focus from small molecules only to a blended portfolio consisting of both small molecules and biologics. This trend brings many opportunities for scientists working in the drug disposition research field. In anticipation of these opportunities and associated challenges, this review highlights impact of ADME studies on clinical and commercial success of biologics, with a particular focus on emerging applications and technologies and linkage with mechanistic pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling and biomarker research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Industry / methods
  • Drug Industry / trends
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Models, Biological


  • Biomarkers
  • Immunologic Factors