Asp-1929 3D cell animation and mechanism of action for Rakuten Medical

7 Minutes



CLIENT: Rakuten Medical is clinical stage biotechnology company which since 2013 has been developing new anticancer therapies based on Photoimmunotherapy. Rakuten will become a fully integrated biopharma company with research, development, and worldwide commercialization of therapies based on the Photoimmunotherapy platform.

SERVICE: From 3DforScience, we produced a 3D cell animation explaining the importance and the mode of action of a new anticancer treatment based on Photoimmunotherapy, that consists on tumour-targeting antibody conjugates that will be activated by normal red light.



“Beautiful mechanism of action video for our lead candidates Asp-1929 and IRDye 700DX made by a fantastic team. It was a pleasure working with 3DforScience team, we’d love to work with them in the future and would highly recommend their work to others.”

Rakuten Medical

Associate Director , Phd



Rakuten Medical is studying ASP-1929`s ability to target tumours that overexpress Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) as occurs in many types of cancer such as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. A full comprehension of the ASP-1929 from part of 3DforScience team is mandatory for the future development of the 3d cell animation process. Combining the efforts of our scientific and creative team we conceptualized the client’s briefing.

The whole information is organized and summarized in the script that will be divided by scenes. Each scene will show an 3d cell animation, defines the voice-over time and further visual information.

First of all, we analyze the information, graphics and schemes given by the client. Once the creative team has understood the project begins to develop and improve the graphics. a deeper research about the real structures of proteins, molecules and cells is necessary to develop 3d cell animation and models.

Rakuten labs

In this case, we researched for the tridimensional structure of cetuximab, available in the Protein Data Bank (, also how cetuximab is attached to the photoactivatable payload (IRDye 700DX).

We process each raw 3D cell animation model from the PDB, giving it shape, texture and a unique aesthetic appearance. in this case, we represent the real structure of cetuximab and for the IRDye 7000DX, we develope that 3D structure to be able to show in each visualization a representation of the anticancer substance.

Rakuten anticancer therapies

The process started with hand-drawn graphics and then we made the 3D visualization. In this case, we didn’t follow the real structure of the EGFR we found at PDB. That’s because the common representation of EGFR has the following shape and our client wanted not the real design but the recognizable representation.

Rakuten biotechnology company

Once the complex reaches the tumour we create a cancer medical animation and visualization of the cell surface showing the EGFR and the antibody approaching and binding it.

Rakuten medical clinical

The next step was to create images of patients and tumours from the clinical images received. On the clinical images, it’s impossible to differentiate all the treatment details so we create our own representations in order to explain the treatment.

In this case, we want to show how the catheters are placed around the tumours. We also want to show how the lights work on the surface of the patient’s skin to activate the treatment.

Rakuten photoinmmunotherapy

Then we develop the visualization of a patient with the most common tumours that overexpress the EGFR, shining in red to clearly show their location, and how the patient take the treatment.

At this moment we have to generate visualizations of the process occurring inside the tumour and the tumour microenvironment so we had to develop all the 3D graphics to show the cell destruction of head and neck cancer by medical animation  of ASP-1929 because in part by the membrane cell disruption that it causes.

rakuten medical necrosis

Furthermore, the subsequent activation of immune cells will contribute to the process such as NK and tumour-specific cytotoxic T cells.

Rakuten photoimmunotherapy

Rakuten Medical’s lead investigational product is ASP-1929. ASP-1929 is an antibody-drug conjugate of cetuximab and IRDye 700DX®. ASP-1929 targets epidermal growth factor (EGFR), which is expressed in multiple types of solid tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other cancers. After the antibody binds to the tumor, ASP-1929 is locally activated with red light using a proprietary investigational laser and fiber optics.”.

This last image reflects the magic of the work process. From one of the first handmade graphics showing the whole process of CD4 T cell activation by DC and the following tumour cell destruction, visualized as a schematic graphic; to the final visualization (right image) where we see the activated T cells developing a specific reaction against the tumour.

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