The asthma market is saturated with relatively efficacious standard therapies, such as short-acting beta-agonists (SABAs) and inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs), but there is still a high unmet need for therapies that treat severe asthma.
Asthma pipeline: biologic therapy
Therefore, the development of targeted biologic therapies for severe phenotypes of asthma is one way that companies can penetrate the asthma market. This is reflected in the asthma pipeline.
There is a much more diverse range of molecule types present in the asthma pipeline when compared to the current market space.
In particular, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) represent the second largest molecule type in the asthma pipeline, accounting for 19%, indicating interest in developing targeted therapies for asthma (pie chart A).
The most prevalent molecular target class in the asthma pipeline is cytokines/chemokines and their receptors (pie chart B). First-in-class products account for 62% of the products in this molecular target class, indicating high levels of innovation.
This group of therapies is diverse, although interleukins (ILs) and IL receptors are by far the most numerous targets among the cytokines, with IL-33, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-17 being targeted most frequently. These ILs are heavily implicated in the inflammatory response, notably for their role in recruiting inflammatory cells such as eosinophils.
The specificity of these therapies means they are highly effective in specific sub-types of asthma patients, such as those characterised by elevated levels of eosinophils.
Asthma pipeline by molecule type and molecular target class
Source: GlobalData, Notes: GPCR = G Protein-Coupled Receptor
A Excludes 17 pipeline products with an undisclosed molecule type
B Excludes 73 pipeline products with an undisclosed molecular target
GlobalData (2019). Frontier Pharma: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, April 2019, GDHC492FP