Control Strategy for Small Molecule Impurities in Antibody-Drug Conjugates

Research paper by Hai H. Gong, Nathan Ihle, Michael T. Jones, Kathleen Kelly, Laila Kott, Thomas Raglione, Scott Whitlock, Qunying Zhang, Jie Zheng

Indexed on: 05 Jan '18Published on: 04 Jan '18Published in: AAPS PharmSciTech


Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are an emerging class of biopharmaceuticals. As such, there are no specific guidelines addressing impurity limits and qualification requirements. The current ICH guidelines on impurities, Q3A (Impurities in New Drug Substances), Q3B (Impurities in New Drug Products), and Q6B (Specifications: Test Procedures and Acceptance Criteria for Biotechnological/Biological Products) do not adequately address how to assess small molecule impurities in ADCs. The International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ) formed an impurities working group (IWG) to discuss this issue. This white paper presents a strategy for evaluating the impact of small molecule impurities in ADCs. This strategy suggests a science-based approach that can be applied to the design of control systems for ADC therapeutics. The key principles that form the basis for this strategy include the significant difference in molecular weights between small molecule impurities and the ADC, the conjugation potential of the small molecule impurities, and the typical dosing concentrations and dosing schedule. The result is that exposure to small impurities in ADCs is so low as to often pose little or no significant safety risk.