Oncology Drug Discovery and Development

AbbVie is dedicated to providing innovative cancer therapies targeted to specific molecular pathways. We do this by harnessing the innovation and intellect of our team to bring forth high-impact medicines that offer clinical benefit for cancer patients. We are focused on the discovery and development of targeted therapies that work against the processes cancer cells need to survive.

Our scientists and researchers are committed to discovering world-class therapeutic compounds based on their vast knowledge and expertise in various cancer pathways, particularly apoptosis (programmed cell death1). AbbVie’s research and development team is focused on understanding cancer biology and delivering novel agents that provide a marked improvement in the treatment of numerous forms of cancer.

At the core of our work is the commitment to developing patient-centered innovations. We strive to use our deep expertise in some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers to identify opportunities to create better outcomes for patients at every stage.

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AbbVie’s State-of-the-Art Research
Research and innovation are the cornerstones of AbbVie’s business as a global biopharmaceutical company. Our discovery and development process begins with the patient. Our efforts are focused on cancers with high unmet medical need, where we believe we can make a meaningful difference for patients. Starting with patient needs helps us focus our efforts and keeps our eye on the goal – to help patients improve their health and their lives.

Expertise in Efficiency
To help cancer patients, we focus on efficiency: identifying ways to streamline the R&D process and investing in technologies and approaches that may help us to more quickly advance promising treatments. Additionally, we are designing adaptive clinical trials, which may help us to more quickly establish proof of concept and determine the appropriate dose of an investigational medicine – making our clinical trials smarter, faster and more efficient.

We are also focusing on new methods, such as biochemical markers and imaging technologies, which may help us more quickly evaluate the effectiveness of our oncology compounds.

Collaborative Approach
Our ability to discover and develop new compounds is enhanced by our use of integrated project teams, which include chemists, biologists, physicians and pharmacologists who work collaboratively on the same compounds. In addition we partner with company and organizations who are also working to develop new cancer treatment options.

Global Research
We have state-of-the-art global research facilities around the world dedicated to discovering and developing treatments that may have a positive impact on cancer patients’ lives. The facilities are located at AbbVie’s headquarters in North Chicago, Ill., in Worcester, Mass., and Ludwigshafen, Germany. Additionally, AbbVie Biotherapeutics, an independent biotechnology company owned by AbbVie and located in Redwood City, Calif., specializes in advancing solutions in oncology.


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Focus Areas

 

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Protein-Based Therapeutics

Protein engineering refers to the design and construction of synthetic proteins that have a desired function.2

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Small Molecules

Small molecules are compounds that have an effect on cell activity and are developed as therapeutics. They may be used to affect reprogramming, self-renewal or differentiation of various cell functions to which cancer cells have become addicted. At AbbVie we are using our expertise to engineer small molecules with specific characteristics that block the growth and/or spread of cancer cells.3

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Biologic Therapeutics

Biologic therapies are substances derived from living organisms or laboratory- produced versions of such substances and may be used to treat cancer. Biological therapeutics that stimulate the body’s immune system to act against cancer cells are often referred to as immunotherapies and do not target cancer cells directly. Other biological therapies such as antibodies target cancer cells directy and interfere with specific cell process involved in tumor growth and progression. AbbVie uses the expertise of our scientists to develop both types of therapies.4

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Combination Technologies

One way to enhance the therapeutic potential of antibodies is to combine, or “conjugate”, them to small molecule drugs, which brings together the compound’s ability to target a specific antigen and the potential benefit of a combination drug.5 Another way to enhance the therapeutic potential of antibodies is to use a technology that allows the specific targeting of two different antibodies to be combined in a single antibody (also called a dual variable domain antibody).6

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Regulatory

AbbVie focuses on accurately interpreting and complying with applicable regulations and guidance to successfully manage our compounds. We work closely with regulatory agencies to take advantage of new and novel endpoints or approval routes.


References

  1. Cory S, Huang DCS, Adams JM. The Bcl-2 family: roles in cell survival and oncogenesis. Oncogene. 2003;22(53):8590-8607.
  2. Turanli-Yildiz B, Alkim C, Cakar ZP. Protein Engineering Methods and Applications. Protein Engineering. 2012;ISBN 9789535100379:33-58. Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/protein-engineering/protein-engineering-methods-and-applications.
  3. Discovery of small molecule cancer drugs: Successes, challenges and opportunities, Mol Oncol, Aprio 2013;6(2):155-176.
  4. National Cancer Institute FactSheet, Biological Therapies for Cancer: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/biological , accessed 04/29/14.
  5. Sassoon I, Blanc V. Antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) clinical pipeline: a review. Methods Mol Biol. 2013;1045:1-27.
  6. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, Volume 17, Issue 3, June 2013, pages 400-405.

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