Bispecific antibodies (bsAbs) target two different epitopes. These are an up-and-coming class of biologics, with two such therapeutics (emicizumab and blinatumomab) FDA approved and on the market, and many more in clinical trials. While the first reported bsAbs were constructed by chemical methods, this approach has fallen out of favour with the advent of modern genetic engineering techniques and, nowadays, the vast majority of bsAbs are produced by protein engineering. However, in recent years, relying on innovations in the fields of bioconjugation and bioorthogonal click chemistry, new chemical methods have appeared that have the potential to be competitive with protein engineering techniques and, indeed, hold some advantages. These approaches offer modularity, reproducibility and batch-to-batch consistency, as well as the integration of handles, whereby additional cargo molecules can be attached easily, e.g. to generate bispecific antibody–drug conjugates. The linker between the antibodies/antibody fragments can also be easily varied, and new formats (types, defined by structural properties or by construction methodology) can be generated rapidly. These attributes offer the potential to revolutionize the field. Here, we review chemical methods for the generation of bsAbs, showing that the newest examples of these techniques are worthy competitors to the industry-standard expression-based strategies.
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P.S. would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for their generous funding.
V.C. is a co-founder and director of the company ThioLogics. P.S. has no competing interests to declare.
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Szijj, P., Chudasama, V. The renaissance of chemically generated bispecific antibodies. Nat Rev Chem 5, 78–92 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-020-00241-6
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