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SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR’s BTI Collaborate to Advance Antibody Development for Infectious Diseases and Cancer Treatments
The collaboration will see novel therapeutic antibody discovery and CMC process development to produce more effective, safer and affordable treatments.

Singapore-based SCG Cell Therapy Pte Ltd (“SCG”), a leading biotechnology company, has signed a collaboration agreement with A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) to advance the development of multi-specific-antibodies.

The collaboration will leverage BTI’s multi-specific antibody technology platform and SCG’s product development expertise for novel therapeutic antibody screening and Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) process development to discover new treatment candidates for infectious diseases and related cancers, particularly the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). Such treatments could complement and augment existing drugs and result in more effective, safer and affordable treatments for patients.

Frank Wang Shuli, Chief Executive Officer of SCG Cell Therapy said, “We’re pleased to sign our first partnership with BTI, a world-class research institute and further strengthening our ties with A*STAR, supporting its vision to position Singapore as a key global bio-manufacturing and biomedical R&D hub.”

“The collaboration builds on SCG’s strong international network and capabilities in product development, and BTI’s in-depth expertise in biotherapeutics technology and manufacturing process development. Together we look forward to accelerating breakthroughs in new antibody-based therapeutics, revolutionising how we treat chronic infections and cancer,” he added.

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to neutralise pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. When a pathogen enters the body, it stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that recognise the harmful agent or antigen and binds to it with precision. The antibody prevents the antigen from binding with its target or triggers an immune attack.

Multi-specific antibodies combine more than two antigen-recognising elements into a single molecule, enabling them to target multiple antigens on the same or separate cells. This is especially crucial in the event of cancer. Multi-specific antibodies engage tumour cells and immune cells to promote immune activities, reduce immune escape, increase tumour killing selectivity, and disrupt cancer development or progression.

Dr. Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director of A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute, said, “Multi-specific antibodies provide a promising platform for the development of novel therapeutic concepts, facilitating the production of safer, more effective pharmaceuticals. This strategic alliance will help strengthen BTI and SCG‘s respective fields of research and contribute to better health and social outcomes for Singapore and beyond.”

The global antibody market was valued at US$145.7 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach US$248.9 billion by end 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.31 per cent. In 2013, five out of the top 10 best-selling drugs were antibody-based. In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved 13 biologics – drugs that are produced from living organisms or their components – out of which 12 were antibody-based while only one was protein-based.

A key factor driving market growth is the increasing demand for therapeutic antibodies to treat chronic diseases. This is due to the high drug costs associated with biologics which uses the substances from living organisms, or the body’s own immune system, to fight the disease. The increasing spending on healthcare raises the economic burden of cancer and other chronic diseases. Improvements in the production of therapeutic antibodies have reduced drug manufacturing costs, increasing penetration in cost-sensitive markets.

Asia Pacific (APAC) has a substantial burden of infectious diseases, including HBV which causes liver cancer and HPV which can lead to cervical cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 33 million people have chronic HBV while over 400,000 die annually from viral hepatitis in SEA (81 per cent from HBV and hepatitis C). In Asia, cervical cancer ranks as the fourth leading cause of female cancer where an estimated 351,721 new cases and 199,902 deaths are reported every year.

Source: A*STAR and SCG Cell Therapy

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