Let’s go step by step.
Biologics (or protein therapeutics, or biotherapies) started as far back as the 1920’s, with the first proteins of animal origin (e.g. porcine/bovine insulin). The first recombinant proteins (i.e. done in the laboratory) were released in the 1980’s. The late XXth and early XXIst century have seen the development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat different diseases (e.g. cancer). Back in 2009, estimations indicated that the biotherapies market for cancer only could reach up to $60 billion by 2019 (1). Biotherapies represent about half of the total cancer treatment market nowadays.
As one can imagine, this trend towards using more and more biotherapies rather than new chemical entities to treat some complex diseases, has attracted the interest of private and academic research laboratories, as biotherapies really work, and some of them very well (both from the health perspective as well as the marketing one).
It has to be noted, though, that sometimes it can be tricky to get biotherapies approved by National Health & Regulatory bodies, as these therapies are not cheap. The Pharmaceutical Price and Reimbursement Scheme (PPRS) in Europe may limit the access of some patient groups to these new biotherapies in some cases (3). But that’s another story.