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To support the analytical development of biomolecules, such as biopharmaceuticals, biosimilars, and monoclonal antibodies, VelaLabs offers methods in accordance with ICH Q6B guidelines, including method feasibility followed by method qualification and comparability.

The analytical portfolio for antibodies covers the Fab part (e.g. target binding by ELISA, SPR, FACS) and the Fc related part (e.g. Fc gamma receptor binding by SPR, C1q binding by ELISA and biological assays that are related to the mode of action of anti-proliferation, CDC, ADCC, apoptosis). For Fab-fragments, the Fc related assays do not apply. For the analysis of glycosylation patterns of proteins, VelaLabs offers lectin microarray technology.


Fact Sheets

VelaLabs expertise covers a variety of biomolecules. A respective fact sheet may be downloaded for free. As we know also the market, we have a competitive field available for all of these biomolecules. The competitive fields are researched with state-of-the-art methods and are routinely updated. For our customers the sheets are available upon request, however, we are willing to share our knowledge for a cost contribution with other interested parties.

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Adalimumab (Humira®) is a human monoclonal IgG1/kappa antibody used in the treatment of e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, or Crohn’s Disease. Humira®was the third tumor necrosis factor (TNF) -α inhibitor on the market, but the first fully human antibody directed towards this target. Adalimumab consists of a tetramer of two heavy and two light chains with one N-glycosylation site per heavy chain. The extended patent of the originator owned by AbbVie expired in 2016 in the US and in the EU in 2018; however, in the last few years AbbVie has secured about 70 (US) patents covering Humira® formulations, manufacturing techniques and methods to treat multiple diseases. These additional patents expire between 2022 and 2034 and AbbVie will pursue litigation to try to keep biosimilars off the US market until at least 2022.

Fact Sheet


Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada®), marketed also under the trade names Campath®, MabCampath® and Campath-1H®, is a monoclonal antibody that binds to cluster of differentiation (CD)52, a cell-surface antigen present on the surface of mature lymphocytes, but not on the stem cells from which these lymphocytes are derived.

Alemtuzumab is indicated for the second-line treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) and T-cell lymphoma under the trade names Campath®, MabCampath® and Campath-1H®, and in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis as Lemtrada®. It is also indicated for some conditioning regimens for bone marrow transplantation, kidney transplantation and islet cell transplantation.

It has to be noted that MabCampath® originally approved for CLL in 2007 was withdrawn from the markets in the US and EU in 2012 to prepare for a higher-priced relaunch of Lemtrada® aimed at Multiple Sclerosis. Basic patents for the molecule have been already expired. A complication of therapy with alemtuzumab is that it increases the risk for opportunistic infections.

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Bevacizumab (Avastin®) is a humanized monoclonal IgG1/kappa antibody that inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and is used to treat various cancers including colorectal, lung, breast, kidney, and glioblastomas.  Bevacizumab patents will expire in 2019 in the US and in the EU in 2022.

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Cetuximab (Erbitux®) is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor used for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck cancer. It is a chimeric (mouse/human) monoclonal antibody. The main patents for cetuximab expired in the EU in 2014 and in the US in 2016.

Fact Sheet


Denosumab (Prolia® Xgeva®) is a human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of osteoporosis, treatment-induced bone loss, bone metastases, multiple myeloma, and giant cell tumor of bone. It is the first FDA approved receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) inhibitor. RANKL has been identified to affect the immune system and control bone regeneration and remodeling. Denosumab was approved for use in postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporosis under the trade name Prolia®, and as Xgeva® for the prevention of skeleton-related events in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors. Expiry dates for patents related to denosumab range from 2017 to 2023 in the US and from 2017 to 2021 in the EU.

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Eculizumab (Soliris®) is a humanized monoclonal antibody. Eculizumab binds to the complement component 5 (C5), which is a terminal molecule in the complement cascade, inhibits the cleavage of C5 by C5 convertase into C5a and C5b and subsequent generation of the terminal complement attack complex C5b-9. Eculizumab thus inhibits terminal complement mediated intravascular hemolysis and therefore the destruction of erythrocytes. Soliris® is indicated for treatment of patients with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH) to reduce hemolysis. It is also indicated for treatment of patients with Atypical Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS) to inhibit complement mediated thrombotic micro-angiopathy. Patents on Soliris® will expire in USA in 2021 and in Europe in 2020.

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Golimumab (Simponi®) is a fully human anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody. Simponi® is indicated in adults as an adjunct to methotrexate treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, alone or as an adjunct to methotrexate treatment for active Psoriatic Arthritis and as a single agent for active Ankylosing Spondylitis and Ulcerative Colitis. Starting from 2009, EMA and FDA have approved Simponi® for its first indications. Patents for Simponi® will expire in 2024 in US as well as in EU.

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Infliximab (Remicade®) is a chimeric (mouse/human) IgG1/kappa monoclonal antibody. Like etanercept and adalimumab, infliximab is a TNF-α blocker. Infliximab is indicated for treatment of a variety of autoimmune diseases, e.g. Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is composed of human constant and murine variable regions with a molecular weight of approx. 144 kDa. The main patent of Remicade® expired in the EU in 2015 and in the US in 2018. J&J, the owner of the originator molecule is trying to delay the entry of biosimilars with additional patents.

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Natalizumab (Tysabri®) is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the cellular adhesion molecule α4-integrin. Natalizumab is used in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease. Tysabri® got its first approval by FDA in 2004 for Multiple Sclerosis and subsequently for Crohn’s Disease. In EU it was approved for Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. The Tysabri® patents expired in 2015 in the EU as well as in the US.

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Nivolumab (Opdivo®) is a fully human monoclonal IgG4 antibody. Nivolumab blocks programmed cell death ligand 1 or 2 (PD-L1 or PD-L2) from binding to PD-1, a protein on the surface of activated T cells. Opdivo® is indicated, among other cancer types, as a first or second line treatment for inoperable or metastatic melanoma. Opdivo® got its first approval in 2014 in the US. Several patent families around this drug are filed, with expiration dates of up to 2027 in US and 2026 in EU.

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Omalizumab (Xolair®) reduces sensitivity to inhaled or ingested allergens, especially in the control of moderate to severe allergic Asthma, which does not respond to high doses of corticosteroids. It is a recombinant humanized IgG1k monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to free human immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the blood and interstitial fluid and to the membrane-bound form of IgE (mIgE) on the surface of mIgE-expressing B -lymphocytes. Xolair® is indicated for moderate-to-severe persistent Asthma and for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria in patients who remain symptomatic despite H1 antihistamine treatment. Xolair® was developed by Genentech (Roche) in collaboration with Novartis. It was approved in US in 2003 and in EU in 2005. Key patents on Xolair® already expired in 2017.

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Pertuzumab (Perjeta®) is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody that targets the dimerization domain II of human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) expressed on the cell surface. When HER2 is over-induced and dimerized with HER3, cell growth accelerates, which can lead to tumor formation. Whereas similar mAb trastuzumab binds to domain IV of the extracellular segment of HER2 receptor, pertuzumab binds to domain II located on the opposite side. Dimerization of HER2 / HER3 and activation of signaling pathways is thus prevented. Perjeta® is approved in combination with Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and docetaxel chemotherapy for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer not received prior anti-HER2 therapy or chemotherapy for metastatic disease. Patent expiry for Perjeta® will be in 2026 (US) and 2024 (EU).

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Ranibizumab (Lucentis®) is a humanized monoclonal antibody fragment created from the same parent mouse antibody as bevacizumab. It is indicated for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration, macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, and myopic choroidal neovascularization. Its effectiveness is similar to that of bevacizumab, however, it is much cheaper.

Ranibizumab binds to the receptor binding site of active forms of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), including the biologically active, cleaved form of this molecule, VEGF110. The binding of ranibizumab to VEGF-A prevents the interaction of VEGF-A with its receptors (VEGFR1 and VEGFR2) on the surface of endothelial cells, reducing endothelial cell proliferation, vascular leakage, and new blood vessel formation. In 2006, Lucentis® got its first FDA approval and in 2007 in the EU. The patents on Lucentis® will expire in the US in 2020 and in the EU in 2022.

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Rituximab (Rituxan®, MabThera®) is a chimeric IgG1/kappa monoclonal antibody targeting CD20, which is primarily found on the surface of B -cells. Rituximab destroys both normal and malignant B -cells that have CD20 on their surfaces, and is therefore used to treat diseases, which are characterized by having too many overactive or dysfunctional B -cells. Rituximab is used for the treatment of many lymphomas and leukemias, transplant rejection and some autoimmune disorders. Rituximab is also used off-label to treat difficult cases of Multiple Sclerosis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and autoimmune anemias.  Rituxan® patents expired in 2013 in the EU and in 2016 in the US.

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Tocilizumab (Actemra®) is a recombinant humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting the interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R). Tocilizumab recognizes both the membrane-bound and the soluble form of IL-6R and thus is able to block IL-6 functions. Actemra/RoActemra® is indicated for RA, active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, giant cell arteritis, cytokine release syndrome, and systemic sclerosis. In Japan, it is also approved for treatment of Castleman’s Disease. The originator product from Roche was approved in US in 2010 and in 2009 in Europe. The patents on Actemra/RoActemra® expired in US in 2015 and in Europe in 2017.

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Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that interferes with the human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2)/neu receptor. The HER2 pathway promotes cell growth and cell division via HER2 receptor. When HER2 is over-induced and dimerized, cell growth accelerates, which can lead to tumor formation. Trastuzumab binds to domain IV of the extracellular segment of HER2 receptor preventing it from dimerization and activation of its signaling pathways.Trastuzumab is used to treat certain breast cancers. Patents for Herceptin® expired in the EU in 2014 and will expire in 2019 in the US.

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Ustekinumab (Stelara®) is an IgG1 kappa human monoclonal antibody. It is directed against Interleukin-12 and Interleukin-23, which are regulating inflammatory processes. It is indicated for treating patients with moderate to severe Plaque Psoriasis and also to treat active Psoriatic Arthritis alone or with Methotrexate. Stelara® has been approved in Europe in 2008 and in the US in 2009. The patent protection for Stelara® will be until 2023 in US and 2024 in EU.

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Fusion Proteins


Abatacept (Orencia®) is a fusion protein composed of the Fc region of the immunoglobulin IgG1 fused to the extracellular domain of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4). It is down-regulating the activation of T-cells by binding to the CD80 and CD86 ligand proteins. Abatacept is useful in delaying the progression of structural damage and reducing symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The patents on Orencia® will expire in the US in October 2019 and expired in Europe in December 2017.

Fact sheet


Aflibercept (Eylea®, Zaltrap®) is a recombinant fusion protein consisting of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) – binding portion from the extracellular domains of human VEGF receptors 1 and 2 fused to the Fc portion of a human IgG1 immunoglobulin.  Like ranibizumab, aflibercept is an inhibitor of VEGF. It binds to the receptor binding site of active forms of VEGF-A, including the biologically active, cleaved form of this molecule, VEGF-110. The binding of aflibercept to VEGF-A prevents the interaction of VEGF-A with its receptors (VEGFR1 and VEGFR2) on the surface of endothelial cells, reducing endothelial cell proliferation, vascular leakage, and new blood vessel formation. Eylea® (aflibercept) is indicated for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration, macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, diabetic macular edema, and diabetic retinopathy. Zaltrap® (ziv-aflibercept) is indicated in combination with 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan (cytostatic medication) for metastatic colorectal cancer that is resistant to or has progressed after an oxaliplatin-containing therapy. The basic US patent for aflibercept will expire in 2020, European patents will expire in 2021.

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Etanercept (Enbrel®) is a dimeric human receptor fusion protein consisting of the extracellular ligand-binding domain of human 75 kDa (p75) tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) linked to the Fc-part of human IgG1. The Fc-part of etanercept contains CH2 domain, CH3 domain and the hinge region. Etanercept competitively inhibits binding of TNF-α to TNFRs, rendering TNF-α biologically inactive. Etanercept also modulates indirectly different biological functions such as expression of adhesion molecule E-selectin, production of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), as well as IL-1. Enbrel® is used in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Plaque Psoriasis. The main patents on Enbrel® in US expired in 2012 and in EU in 2015.

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Darbepoetin alpha

Darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp®) contains in comparison to natural erythropoietin five amino acid changes (at N30, T32, V87, N88, T90) resulting into creation of two new sites for N-linked carbohydrate addition. It has a three-fold longer serum half-life compared to epoetin alpha and epoetin beta. It is a 165-amino acid protein with a molecular weight of 37 kDa.

Darbepoetin alfa stimulates erythropoiesis by the same mechanism as endogenous erythropoietin. Erythropoietin interacts with progenitor stem cells to increase red cell production. Binding of erythropoietin to the erythropoietin receptor leads to receptor dimerization, which facilitates activation of janus kinase – signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling pathways within cellular cytosol. Activated STAT proteins are translocated to the nucleus where they function as transcription factors, which regulate the activation of specific genes involved in cell division or differentiation process.

Aranesp® is indicated for the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, including patients on dialysis and patients not on dialysis. Aranesp® is also indicated for the treatment of anemia in patients with non-myeloid malignancies where anemia is due to the effect of concomitant myelo-suppressive chemotherapy.

Patents on Aranesp® will expire in US in May 2024 and already expired in Europe in July 2016.

Fact sheet

Epoetin alpha

Epoetin alfa (Epogen® / Eprex® / Procrit® ) contains 165 amino acids with the identical sequence of naturally occurring erythropoietin. It has a molecular weight of approximately 30.4 kDa. Epoetin alfa and epoetin beta have differences in the glycosylation pattern.

The mode of action of epoetin alpha is the same as of  darbepoetin alpha (see above).

Epogen® is indicated for the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, anemia due to zidovudine in patients with HIV infection, treatment of patients with non-myeloid malignancies, and for reduction of the need for allogeneic red blood cell transfusions during elective, noncardiac, nonvascular surgery.

The patents on Epogen® / Eprex® expired in US and Europe already in 2013.

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Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) consists of two non-covalently linked glycoproteins designated as alpha- and beta- subunits, which have 92 and 111 amino acids, respectively. The molecular weight is 22.7 kDa. Follitropin is the corresponding recombinantly produced molecule and is marketed as follitropin alpha (Gonal F®) and follitropin beta (Puregon®). The amino acid sequences of follitropin alpha and beta are identical to that of FSH, however, there are differences in glycosylation patterns.

FSH is synthesized and secreted by gonadotrophs of the anterior pituitary gland. FSH regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body. FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH) act synergistically in reproduction. Specifically, an increase in FSH secretion by the anterior pituitary causes ovulation. Follitropin is indicated for different complications in ovulation and pregnancy. Basic patents have already been expired.

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Filgrastim (granulocyte colony stimulating factor, G-CSF, Neupogen®) consists of 175 amino acid residues (18.8 kDa) with two disulfide bridges. Filgrastim binds to the G-CSF receptor, stimulates the proliferation of progenitor cells and their maturation into neutrophils (white blood cells). Filgrastim also stimulates the release of neutrophils from bone marrow and increases their phagocytic activity. By stimulation of the production of more neutrophils, filgrastim treatment can thus be used to fight infection in patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Neupogen® is approved for five indications in the following patient populations: Chemotherapy induced Febrile Neutropenia, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, cancer patients receiving bone marrow transplant, peripheral blood progenitor cell collection and engraftment, and Severe Chronic Neutropenia. Patents on Neupogen® expired in the US in December 2013 and in Europe in 2006.

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Human growth hormone (HGH, Nutropin®, Genotropin®), also known as somatotropin, is a 191-amino acid, single-chain polypeptide that is synthesized and secreted by somatotropic cells within the lateral wings of the anterior pituitary gland. It is anabolic and stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration. HGH is used as replacement therapy in persons with HGH deficiency. Human pituitary-derived hormone was available since the late 1950s and in 1981 Genetech developed the first recombinant product. Patents already expired and a variety of biosimilars are marketed or in development.

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Animal sourced insulins are now rarely available in developed countries and even use of recombinant human insulin is declining in different markets whereas insulin analogues are dominating the market since years. Basal insulins are long acting, bolus insulins are fast acting.

Insulin is indicated to treat high blood glucose including Diabetes Mellitus type 1 and 2, gestational Diabetes, and complications of Diabetes such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic states. Insulin is also used with glucose to treat high blood potassium levels. Depending on the disease type and stage, different insulin analogues or mixtures thereof are prescribed.

Patent protection of recombinant human insulin has expired for more than 15 years and also patents for many analogues have been expired so far, e.g. for Lantus® and Humalog®.

Fact sheet


Interferon-β1a (IFN-β1a, Avonex®) is a cytokine in the interferon family used to treat the relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive forms of Multiple Sclerosis. The beneficial effect of IFN-β in Multiple Sclerosis probably results from a variety of modulatory actions, such as a for example modulation of IgG synthesis, an increase of Interleukin -10 levels, and the inhibition of Interleukin-1β and TNF-α.

True composition of matter patents expired for Avonex® in 2013. Other patents for the drug’s use in treating diseases, are valid until September 2026. Avonex® was approved in 1996 and biosimilars are already on the market.

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Pegfilgrastim (pegG-CSF, Neulasta®) is a variant of G-CSF coupled to a polyethylene glycol (PEG) molecule. The PEG form has a longer half-life, thus reducing the necessity of daily injections. Pegfilgrastim patents already expired in US in 2015 and in EU in 2017. Biosimilars are already in development or approved.

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Parathyroid hormone (PTH, Natpara®, Preos®, Preotact®) is a polypeptide containing 84 amino acids (9.4 kDa). Only the 34 N-terminal amino acids are required for the bioactive conformation. Teriparatide (Forteo®) consisting of these 34 amino acids has the same efficacy as PTH.

PTH secreted by the chief cells of the parathyroid glands is the primary regulator of calcium and phosphate metabolism in bone and kidney. It is acting upon the PTH-1 receptor in bone and kidney, and the PTH-2 receptor in the central nervous system, pancreas, testis, and placenta. PTH increases serum calcium. Teriparatide is indicated for treatment of Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men at high risk for fracture and for glucocorticoid-induced Osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women. PTH is indicated as an adjunct to calcium and vitamin D to control hypocalcemia in patients with hypoparathyroidism.

PTH is marketed by Shire as Natpara®. The originator product of teriparatide, Eli Lilly’s Forteo®, was approved by FDA in 2002 and by EMA in 2003. In contrast to PTH, biosimilars of teriparatide are already marketed.

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