Strategies to Determine Assay Format for the Assessment of Neutralizing Antibody Responses to Biotherapeutics

AAPS J. 2016 Nov;18(6):1335-1350. doi: 10.1208/s12248-016-9954-6. Epub 2016 Aug 5.


Most biotherapeutics can elicit immune responses in dosed recipients generating anti-drug antibodies (ADAs). Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) are a subpopulation of ADAs that can potentially impact patient safety and directly mediate loss of drug efficacy by blocking the biological activity of a therapeutic product. Therefore, NAb detection is an important aspect of immunogenicity assessment, requiring sensitive and reliable methods reflective of the therapeutic mechanism of action (MoA). Both cell-based and non cell-based assays are viable options for NAb assessment. However, the scientific approach for the selection of a suitable assay format (cell-based or non cell-based) for NAb assessment is not currently well defined. In this manuscript, the authors summarize the design and utility of cell-based and non cell-based NAb assays and recommend a NAb assay format selection approach that relies on a combination of three factors. These include (i) the therapeutic MoA, (ii) the evidence of desirable assay performance characteristics, and (iii) risk of immunogenicity. The utility of correlating NAb response with pharmacodynamic data is also discussed. The aim of this paper is to provide a consistent strategy that will guide the selection of scientifically justified assay formats capable of detecting clinically relevant NAbs for biotherapeutics with varying MoAs and diverse complexity.

Keywords: assay format; biotherapeutic; mechanism of action; neutralizing antibody.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Biological Products / immunology*
  • Humans


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Biological Products