Immunogenicity of mAbs in non-human primates during nonclinical safety assessment

MAbs. Sep-Oct 2013;5(5):810-6. doi: 10.4161/mabs.25234. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


The immunogenicity of biopharmaceuticals used in clinical practice remains an unsolved challenge in drug development. Non-human primates (NHPs) are often the only relevant animal model for the development of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), but the immune response of NHPs to therapeutic mAbs is not considered to be predictive of the response in humans because of species differences. In this study, we accessed the drug registration files of all mAbs registered in the European Union to establish the relative immunogenicity of mAbs in NHPs and humans. The incidence of formation of antidrug-antibodies in NHPs and patients was comparable in only 59% of the cases. In addition, the type of antidrug-antibody response was different in NHP and humans in 59% of the cases. Humanization did not necessarily reduce immunogenicity in humans. Immunogenicity interfered with the safety assessment during non-clinical drug development when clearing or neutralizing antibodies were formed. While important to interpret the study results, immunogenicity reduced the quality of NHP data in safety assessment. These findings confirm that the ability to compare relative immunogenicity of mAbs in NHPs and humans is low. Furthermore, immunogenicity limits the value of informative NHP studies.

Keywords: antidrug-antibodies; drug development; immunogenicity; monoclonal antibodies; non-clinical; non-human primates; regulatory science; safety assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Drug Approval / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / etiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / immunology*
  • European Union
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Primates / immunology*
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal