Research at MorphoSys

Searching and Finding the Right Antibody

Searching and Finding the Right Antibody

MorphoSys identifies the right antibodies for interesting therapeutic targets in partnerships with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. This business model brought success to MorphoSys, and antibody discovery remains a pillar of the Company until today. Tremfya® has now been approved for the treatment of patients with psoriasis, as the first antibody based on our technology. Stefan Schmidt was involved in the discovery of the antibody in the laboratory in 2003.

Mr. Schmidt, can you still remember how you and your colleagues discovered Tremfya®?

Stefan Schmidt — We performed several lab experiments to find an antibody for Janssen that is directed against a subunit of the newly discovered IL-23 molecule. IL-23 is an endogenous messenger substance that plays a role in the development of psoriasis. In hindsight, it was pure coincidence that I, of all people, was involved in the experiment that eventually lead to the discovery of Tremfya® - it could have been anyone of our team.

Following the discovery, MorphoSys transferred Tremfya® to Janssen for further development. Have you been following this?

Stefan Schmidt — As far as possible, I try to follow the development of all antibodies we have discovered for other companies. When the news came out that Tremfya® was approved in the U.S. – and later also in other countries such as the EU and Japan – was just fantastic. Knowing that patients now benefit from what we originally discovered in the laboratory is very rewarding.

there are currently more than 100 anti­body programs in the morphosys pipeline. i hope that many of these will make it to the market and that many patients will benefit from our work. Stefan Schmidt,
Chemical-Technical Assistant at MorphoSys
Is there still a need for antibody discovery efforts today?

Stefan Schmidt — In my opinion, the need for specific antibodies is greater than ever, as the medicine of today moves towards so-called personalized treatments tailored for specific disease variants or target molecules. Antibodies are ideal candidates for such targeted therapies due to their specificity and selectivity, thereby avoiding unnecessary treatments and side effects.

Besides Tremfya®, are there any other antibodies from MorphoSys’s laboratories that are close to approval?

Stefan Schmidt — There are currently more than 100 antibody programs in the MorphoSys pipeline. I hope that many of them will make it to the market, in the U.S., in Europe, worldwide, and that many patients will benefit from our work. That’s why we go to work every day.