The full characterization of nonbiological complex drugs (NBCDs) is not possible, but analytical approaches are of urgent need to evaluate the similarity between different lots and compare with their follow-up versions. Here, we propose a hypothesis testing-based approach to assess the similarity/difference between random amino acid copolymer drugs using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis. Two glatiramer acetate (GA) drugs, commercially available Copaxone and in-house synthesized SPT, and a negative control were digested by Lys-C and followed by HILIC-MS analysis. After retention time alignment and feature identification, 1627 features matched to m/z values in an elemental composition database were considered as derived from active drug ingredients. A hypothesis testing approach, the sum of squared deviations test, was developed to process high-dimensional data derived from LC-MS spectra. The feasibility of this approach was first demonstrated by testing 5 versus 5 lots of Copaxone and Copaxone versus SPT, which suggested a significant similarity by obtaining the estimated 95th percentile of the distribution of the estimator (ρ'(95%)) at 0.0056 (p-value = 0.0026) and 0.0026 (p-value < 0.0001), respectively. In contrast, the ρ' was 0.036 (p-value = 1.00), while comparing Copaxone and the negative control, implying a lack of similarity. We further synthesized nine stable isotope-labeled peptides to validate the proposed amino acid sequences in the database, demonstrating the correctness in sequence identification. The quantitation variations in our analytical procedures were determined to be 6.8-7.7%. This approach was found to have a great potential for evaluating the similarity between generic NBCDs and listed reference drugs, as well as to monitor the lot-to-lot variation.
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