Preventing migraines with a new kind of antibody
In efforts to block the protein called CGRP which is released in the ‘process that trigger pain’ but in a way that will reduce side effects previous research encountered with liver toxicity (not something we like in our preventatives I must say). I find this new research approach fascinating to say the least and certainly sounds like it hold potential… which is exciting. I can’t wait from them to develop it further.
“A biopharmaceutical company in Bothell, Washington, may have a solution. It hopes that a monthly injection of an antibody that blocks a well-known migraine-triggering protein will prevent these headaches.
The company, called Alder Biopharmaceuticals, is testing the efficacy of the drug in a clinical study of 160 patients, each of whom has between four and 14 migraines per month; Alder expects the results of the study to be in this fall.
The company’s new antibody is also produced in a novel way. It is made in yeast, a relative outsider in the world of therapeutic protein manufacturing, which is dominated by bacteria and mammalian cell culture. By producing the antibody this way, the company hopes to prove the new manufacturing approach, which Alder says will be faster and potentially cheaper.
The target of Alder’s antibody is a protein called CGRP that is thought to be at the root of migraines. CGRP has been intensely studied by multiple drug companies, says Porter, but so far without success. The protein is released during the processes that trigger pain, says Porter, “and if you can block the release of it, then it seems it would be pretty effective to stop headaches,” she says. One company had a late-stage clinical trial with a drug that blocked CGRP but, while the treatment seemed to reduce headaches, the trial uncovered problems with liver toxicity, she says.
For Alder, that trial, conducted by Merck, firmly established that managing migraine through CGRP control was going to work. An antibody—which typically is more specific and has fewer off-target effects than small-molecule drugs—could offer a safer mode of attack.
John Latham and two other former employees of a large antibody-manufacturing company called Celltech founded Alder with the goal of developing a new way of producing antibodies. The team decided to try to “change the paradigm with the way you make an antibody, make it faster and more reliably,” says Latham.