In recent times, antibody drug conjugates have emerged as new promising targeted therapy in the management of wide range of cancers. These are generally composed of an antibody which binds to a protein highly expressed in tumour cells (a tumour antigen), connected via a linker to a cytotoxic small molecule payload. In principle, this design enables the targeted delivery of a drug to the tumour, killing cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue and providing a wider therapeutic margin than traditional chemotherapy. Despite continuing progress for ADCs, these therapies present several drawbacks. As cytotoxic drugs, ADCs can incur significant toxicity and their complicated structure results in high production costs.
To overcome these issues, many research groups have explored alternative approaches such as peptide-based drugs. In recent years peptides have emerged as the considerable therapeutic candidate owning to their simple and cost efficient production & development process. Peptides are recognized for being highly selective and efficacious and, at the same time, relatively safe and well tolerated. Given their attractive pharmacological profile and intrinsic properties, peptides represent an excellent starting point for the design of novel therapeutics.
Peptide drug conjugates are class of targeted therapeutics, which is composed of three vital components: a homing peptide, a linker and a cytotoxic payload. All three work in synergy to deliver cytotoxins through targeting the selected receptor of a tumor cell. The peptide drug conjugate can target the tumor cell in two ways including first internalization and then intracellular cleavage to release the cytotoxin. An alternative scenario occurs when cleavage occurs outside the cell followed by internalization of the cytotoxin. Currently, melphalan flufenamide, or melflufen is the only peptide drug conjugate approved by regulatory bodies. It is a first-in-class peptide-drug conjugate that targets aminopeptidases and rapidly releases alkylating agents inside melanoma cancer cells.
Despite conferring several advantages, the peptide drug conjugates have several limitations which will restrain their growth in market. The peptides have much shorter circulatory half-lives which ultimately led to rapid clearance of the drug before its targeted mode of action. However, the advancement in science and technology have led to development of several chemical modifications and structural modifications of peptides which have significantly improved the shelf life of peptides.
The robust clinical response in the management of cancer has led to high investment by various pharmaceutical companies in this domain. Several pharmaceutical giants including Pfizer, Astrazenecea, Bicycle Therapeutics, Oncopeptides and Pepgen Corporation have indulged in research activitied for developing peptide drug conjugates. The robust clinical pipeline of drugs suggests that in coming years, there will be rapid approval of several peptide drug conjugates in the management of wide range of cancers.
It is expected that North America followed by Europe will dominate the global peptide drug conjugate market due to the high adoption rates of novel cancer immunotherapy in this region and the high prevalence of cancer. In addition to this, the increasing initiatives by government and private sector will also boost the research and development activities in this region. In addition to this, Asia Pacific and Korea will also compete to hold a significant position in the market owing to their rapid increase in technological advancement and high prevalence of cancer in this region.