Non-human primates in the PKPD evaluation of biologics: Needs and options to reduce, refine, and replace. A BioSafe White Paper

MAbs. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2145997. doi: 10.1080/19420862.2022.2145997.


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) deliver great benefits to patients with chronic and/or severe diseases thanks to their strong specificity to the therapeutic target. As a result of this specificity, non-human primates (NHP) are often the only preclinical species in which therapeutic antibodies cross-react with the target. Here, we highlight the value and limitations that NHP studies bring to the design of safe and efficient early clinical trials. Indeed, data generated in NHPs are integrated with in vitro information to predict the concentration/effect relationship in human, and therefore the doses to be tested in first-in-human trials. The similarities and differences in the systems defining the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (PKPD) of mAbs in NHP and human define the nature and the potential of the preclinical investigations performed in NHPs. Examples have been collated where the use of NHP was either pivotal to the design of the first-in-human trial or, inversely, led to the termination of a project prior to clinical development. The potential impact of immunogenicity on the results generated in NHPs is discussed. Strategies to optimize the use of NHPs for PKPD purposes include the addition of PD endpoints in safety assessment studies and the potential re-use of NHPs after non-terminal studies or cassette dosing several therapeutic agents of interest. Efforts are also made to reduce the use of NHPs in the industry through the use of in vitro systems, alternative in vivo models, and in silico approaches. In the case of prediction of ocular PK, the body of evidence gathered over the last two decades renders the use of NHPs obsolete. Expert perspectives, advantages, and pitfalls with these alternative approaches are shared in this review.

Keywords: 3Rs; Non-human primate; Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics; Target-mediated drug disposition; antibodies; dose prediction; immunogenicity; nonspecific clearance; pharmacokinetics; translation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biological Products* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Primates


  • Biological Products
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal

Grants and funding

The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.