Disulfide bond reduction has been a challenging issue in antibody manufacturing, as it leads to reduced product purity, failed product specifications and more importantly, impacting drug safety and efficacy. Scientists across industry have been examining the root causes and developing mitigation strategies to address the challenge. In recent years, with the development of high-titer mammalian cell culture processes to meet the rapidly growing demand for antibody biopharmaceuticals, disulfide bond reduction has been observed more frequently. Thus, it is necessary to continue evolving the disulfide reduction mitigation strategy and development of novel approaches to achieve high product quality. Additionally, in recent years as more complex molecules emerge such as bispecific and trispecific antibodies, the molecular heterogeneity due to incomplete formation of the interchain disulfide bonds becomes a more imperative issue. Given the disulfide reduction challenges that our industry are facing, in this review, we provide a comprehensive contemporary scientific insight into the root cause analysis of disulfide reduction during process development of antibody therapeutics, mitigation strategies and recovery based on our expertise in commercial and clinical manufacturing of biologics. First, this paper intended to highlight different aspects of the root cause for disulfide reduction. Secondly, to provide a broader understanding of the disulfide bond reduction in downstream process, this paper discussed disulfide bond reduction impact to product stability and process performance, analytical methods for detection and characterization, process control strategies and their manufacturing implementation. In addition, brief perspectives on development of future mitigation strategies will also be reviewed, including platform alignment, mitigation strategy application for bi- and tri-specific antibodies and using machine learning to identify molecule susceptibility of disulfide bond reduction. The data in this review are originated from both the published papers and our internal development work.
The Vero cell line is the most used continuous cell line in viral vaccine manufacturing. This adherent cell culture platform requires the use of surfaces to support cell growth, typically roller bottles or microcarriers. We have recently compared the production of rVSV-ZEBOV on Vero cells between microcarrier and fixed-bed bioreactors. However, suspension cultures are considered superior with regards to process scalability. Therefore, we further explore the Vero suspension system for rVSV-vectored vaccine production. Previously, this suspension cell line was only able to be cultivated in a proprietary medium. Here, we expand the adaptation and bioreactor cultivation to a serum-free commercial medium. Following small scale optimization and screening studies, we demonstrate bioreactor productions of highly relevant vaccines and vaccine candidates against Ebola virus disease, HIV and COVID-19 in the Vero suspension system. rVSV-ZEBOV, rVSV-HIV and rVSVInd-msp-SF-Gtc can replicate to high titers in the bioreactor, reaching 3.87 × 107 TCID50/mL, 2.12 × 107 TCID50/mL and 3.59 × 109 TCID50/mL, respectively. Further, we compare cell specific productivities, and the quality of the produced viruses by determining the ratio of total viral particles to infectious viral particles
Hollow fiber-based membrane filtration has emerged as the dominant technology for cell retention in perfusion processes yet significant challenges in alleviating filter fouling remain unsolved. In this work, the benefits of co-current filtrate flow applied to a tangential flow filtration (TFF) module to reduce or even completely remove Starling recirculation caused by the axial pressure drop within the module was studied by pressure characterization experiments and perfusion cell culture runs. Additionally, a novel concept to achieve alternating Starling flow within unidirectional TFF was investigated. Pressure profiles demonstrated that precise flow control can be achieved with both lab-scale and manufacturing scale filters. TFF systems with co-current flow showed up to 40% higher product sieving compared to standard TFF. The decoupling of transmembrane pressure from crossflow velocity and filter characteristics in co-current TFF alleviates common challenges for hollow-fiber based systems such as limited crossflow rates and relatively short filter module lengths, both of which are currently used to avoid extensive pressure drop along the filtration module. Therefore, co-current filtrate flow in unidirectional TFF systems represents an interesting and scalable alternative to standard TFF or alternating TFF operation with additional possibilities to control Starling recirculation flow.
Host cell proteins (HCPs) are process-related impurities that may co-purify with biopharmaceutical drug products. Within this class of impurities there are some that are more problematic. These problematic HCPs can be considered high-risk and can include those that are immunogenic, biologically active, or enzymatically active with the potential to degrade either product molecules or excipients used in formulation, and often are difficult-to-purify. Why should the biopharmaceutical industry worry about these high-risk host cell proteins? What approach could be taken to understand the origin of this co-purification and to deal with these high-risk HCPs? To answer these questions, the BioPhorum Development Group (BPDG) HCP Workstream initiated a collaboration among its 26-company team with the goal of industry alignment around high-risk HCPs. A sub team was formed, in which the members performed literature searches and discussed the information available around this topic. A survey to the BPDG HCP Workstream team members led to team discussions and insights into a list of frequently seen problematic HCPs. These HCPs were further classified based on their potential impact into different risk categories that could be beneficial to the biopharmaceutical industry for targeted monitoring of those HCP impurities in CHO-produced biologics to minimize risk to product quality, safety, and efficacy.
For drug products manufactured in mammalian cells, safety assurance practices are needed during production to assure that the final medicinal product is safe from the potential risk of viral contamination. Virus filters provide viral retention for a range of viruses through robust, size-based retention mechanism. Therefore, a viral filtration step is commonly utilized in a well-designed recombinant therapeutic protein purification process and is a key component in an overall strategy to minimize the risks of adventitious and endogenous viral particles during the manufacturing of biotechnology products. This review summarizes the history of viral filtration, currently available viral filters and prefilters, and viral filtration integrity test methods and study models. There is also discussion of current understanding and gaps with an eye toward future trends and emerging filtration technologies.
We describe scalable and cost-efficient production of full length, His-tagged SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein trimer by CHO cells that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in patient sera at high specificity and sensitivity. Transient production of spike in both HEK and CHO cells mediated by PEI was increased significantly (up to 10.9-fold) by a reduction in culture temperature to 32ºC to permit extended duration cultures. Based on these data GS-CHO pools stably producing spike trimer under the control of a strong synthetic promoter were cultured in hypothermic conditions with combinations of bioactive small molecules to increase yield of purified spike product 4.9-fold to 53 mg/L. Purification of recombinant spike by Ni-chelate affinity chromatography initially yielded a variety of co-eluting protein impurities identified as host cell derived by mass spectrometry, which were separated from spike trimer using a modified imidazole gradient elution. Purified CHO spike trimer antigen was used in ELISA format to detect IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in sera from patient cohorts previously tested for viral infection by PCR, including those who had displayed COVID-19 symptoms. The antibody assay, validated to ISO 15189 Medical Laboratories standards, exhibited a specificity of 100% and sensitivity of 92.3%. Our data show that CHO cells are a suitable host for the production of larger quantities of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 trimer which can be used as antigen for mass serological testing.
Chromatographic data processing has garnered attention due to multiple FDA 483 citations and warning letters, highlighting the need for a robust technological solution. The healthcare industry has the potential to greatly benefit from the adoption of digital technologies, but the process of implementing these technologies can be slow and complex. This article presents a “Digital by Design” managerial approach, adapted from pharmaceutical quality by design principles, for designing and implementing an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution for chromatography peak integration process in the healthcare industry. We report the use of a convolutional neural network model to predict analytical variability for integrating chromatography peaks and propose a potential GxP framework for using artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry that includes elements on data management, model management, and human-in-the-loop processes. The component on analytical variability prediction has a great potential to enable Industry 4.0 objectives on real-time release testing, automated quality control, and continuous manufacturing.
A robust monoclonal antibody (mAb) bioprocess requires physiological parameters such as temperature, pH, or dissolved oxygen (DO) to be well-controlled as even small variations in them could potentially impact the final product quality. For instance, pH substantially affects N-glycosylation, protein aggregation and charge variant profiles, as well as mAb productivity. However, relatively less is known about how pH jointly influences product quality and titer. In this study, we investigated the effect of pH on culture performance, product titer and quality profiles by applying longitudinal multi-omics profiling, including transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and glycomics, at three different culture pH set points. The subsequent systematic analysis of multi-omics data showed that pH set points differentially regulated various intracellular pathways including intracellular vesicular trafficking, cell cycle, and apoptosis, thereby resulting in differences in specific productivity, product titer and quality profiles. In addition, a time-dependent variation in mAb N-glycosylation profiles, independent of pH was identified to be mainly due to the accumulation of mAb proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) over culture time, disrupting cellular homeostasis. Overall, this multi-omics-based study provides an in-depth understanding of the intracellular processes in mAb-producing CHO cell line under varied pH conditions and could serve as a baseline for enabling the quality optimization and control of mAb production.
By integrating continuous cell cultures with continuous purification methods, process yields and product quality attributes were improved over the last 10 years for recombinant protein production. However, for the production of viral vectors such as Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA), no such studies have been reported although there is an increasing need to meet the requirements for a rising number of clinical trials against infectious or neoplastic diseases. Here, we present for the first time a scalable suspension cell (AGE1.CR.pIX cells) culture-based perfusion process in bioreactors integrating continuous virus harvesting through an acoustic settler with semi-continuous chromatographic purification. This allowed to obtain purified MVA particles with a space-time yield >600% higher for the integrated perfusion process (1.05 x 1011 TCID50/Lbioreactor/day) compared to the integrated batch process. Without further optimization, purification by membrane-based steric exclusion chromatography resulted in an overall product recovery of 50.5%. To decrease the level of host cell DNA prior to chromatography, a novel inline continuous DNA digestion step was integrated into the process train. A detailed cost analysis comparing integrated production in batch versus production in perfusion mode showed that the cost per dose for MVA was reduced by nearly one third using this intensified small-scale process.
The biopharmaceutical industry is transitioning from currently deployed batch-mode bioprocessing to a highly efficient and agile next generation bioprocessing with the adaptation of continuous bioprocessing, which reduces the capital investment and operational costs. Continuous bioprocessing, aligned with FDA’s quality-by-design (QbD) platform, is designed to develop robust processes to deliver safe and effective drugs. With the deployment of knowledge based operations, product quality can be built into the process to achieve desired critical quality attributes (CQAs) with reduced variability. To facilitate next generation continuous bio-processing, it is essential to embrace a fundamental shift-in-paradigm from “quality-by-testing” to “quality-by-design”, which requires the deployment of process analytical technologies (PAT). With the adaptation of PAT, a systematic approach of process and product understanding and timely process control are feasible. Deployment of PAT tools for real-time monitoring of CQAs and feedback control is critical for continuous bioprocessing. Given the current deficiency in PAT tools to support continuous bioprocessing, we have integrated Agilent 2D-LC with a post-flow-splitter in conjunction with the SegFlow automated sampler to the bioreactors. With this integrated system, we have established a platform for online measurements of titer and CQAs of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) as well as amino acid concentrations of bioreactor cell culture.
The dominant method for generating Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines that produce high titers of biotherapeutic proteins utilizes selectable markers such as dihydrofolate reductase (Dhfr) or glutamine synthetase (Gs), alongside inhibitory compounds like methotrexate (MTX) or methionine sulfoximine (MSX), respectively. Recent work has shown the importance of asparaginase (Aspg) for growth in media lacking glutamine–the selection medium for Gs-based selection systems. We generated a Gs/Aspg double knockout CHO cell line and evaluated its utility as a novel dual selectable system via co-transfection of Gs-Enbrel and Aspg-Enbrel plasmids. Using the same selection conditions as the standard Gs system, the resulting cells from the Gs/Aspg dual selection showed substantially improved specific productivity and titer compared to the standard Gs selection method, however, with reduced growth rate and viability. Following adaptation in selection medium, the cells improved viability and growth while still achieving ~5-fold higher specific productivity and ~3-fold higher titer than Gs selection alone. We anticipate that with further optimization of culture medium and selection conditions this approach would serve as an effective addition to workflows for the industrial production of recombinant biotherapeutics.
Therapeutic proteins, including monoclonal antibodies, are typically manufactured using clonally-derived, stable host cell lines, since consistent and predictable cell culture performance is highly desirable. However, selecting and preparing banks of stable clones takes considerable time, which inevitably extends overall development timelines for new therapeutics by delaying the start of subsequent activities, such as the scale-up of manufacturing processes. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its intense pressure for accelerated development strategies, we used a novel transposon-based Leap-In Transposase® system to rapidly generate high-titer stable pools and then used them directly for large scale-manufacturing of an anti-SARS-CoV2 monoclonal antibody under cGMP. We performed the safety testing of our non-clonal cell bank, then used it to produce material at a 200L-scale for pre-clinical safety studies and formulation development work, and thereafter at 2000L scale for supply of material for a Phase 1 clinical trial. Testing demonstrated the comparability of critical product qualities between the two scales and, more importantly, that our final clinical trial product met all pre-set product quality specifications. The above expediated approach provided clinically-ready material within 4.5 months, in comparison to 12-14 months for production of clinical trial material via the conventional approach.
Thermobifida fusca cutinase ( TfC ) is a carboxylesterase (CE) that degrades the environmental pollutant, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). TfC also acts upon PET’s degradation intermediates (DIs), such as oligoethylene terephthalate (OET), and bis-/mono-hydroxyethyl terephthalate (BHET/MHET), to convert these into terephthalic acid (TPA), the terminal product of PET degradation. We examined TfC’s surface, compared it to that of other CEs, and performed molecular docking and MD simulations with an OET, 2HE-(MHET) 3, to understand interactions between TfC’s surface and the OET, at TfC’s active site as well as vicinal regions. We mutated 17 residues on TfC’s surface, mostly individually, but sometimes using pairs of mutations, to see how these modulate TfC’s activity. Most mutants/variants showed a decrease in activity against solid PET. Some killed activity completely. However, three mutations (L90F, F209I and F249R), made using a background mutation (G62A) already reported to improve activity by almost ~2.0-fold, yielded increases in activity that were between ~1.3- and ~2.0-fold higher than that of G62A TfC (which we found to display a ~1.7-fold increase in activity over TfC, in our own experiments). TfC variants, G62A/F249R, and G62A/F209I, exhibit the highest activities yet observed in any TfC mutants/variants, against PET, and BHET, respectively.
Enzymatic detachment of cells might damage important features of cells and could affect subsequent function of cells in various applications. Therefore, non-enzymatic cell detachment using thermosensitive polymer matrix is necessary for maintaining cell quality after harvesting. In this study, we synthesized thermosensitive PNIPAm-co-AAc-b-PS and PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS copolymers and LCST was tuned near to body temperature. Then, polymer solutions (5% w/v, 10% w/v, and 20% w/v) were spin coated to prepare films for cell adhesion and thermal-induced cell detachment. The apha-step analysis and SEM image of the films suggested that the thickness of the films depends on the molecular weight and concentration which ranged from 206 nm to 1330 nm for PNIPAm-co-AAc-b-PS and 97.5 nm to 497 nm for PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS. The contact angles of the films verified that the polymer surface was moderately hydrophilic at 37°C. From cell attachment and detachment studies, RAW264.7 cells, were convincingly proliferated on the films to a confluent of >80 % within 48 days. However, relatively more cells were grown on PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS (5%w/v) films and thermal-induced cell detachment was more abundant in this formulation. As a result, commercial cytodex 3 microcarrier was coated with PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS (5%w/v) and interestingly enhanced cell detachment with preserved potential of recovery was observed at low temperature during 3D culturing. Thus, surface modification of microcarriers with PNIPAm-co-AAm-b-PS could be vital strategy for non-enzymatic cell dissociation and able to achieve adequate number of cells with maximum cell viability, and functionality for various cell-based applications. Keywords: surface coated microcarriers; thermosensitive polymer; non-enzymatic cell detachment
Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell lines are grown in cultures with varying asparagine and glutamine concentrations, but further study is needed to characterize the interplay between these amino acids. By following 13C-glucose, 13C-glutamine, and 13C-asparagine tracers using metabolic flux analysis (MFA), CHO cell metabolism was characterized in an industrially relevant fed-batch process under glutamine supplemented and low glutamine conditions during early and late exponential growth. For both conditions MFA revealed glucose as the primary carbon source to the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle followed by glutamine and asparagine as secondary sources. Early exponential phase CHO cells prefer glutamine over asparagine to support the TCA cycle under the glutamine supplemented condition, while asparagine was critical for TCA activity for the low glutamine condition. Overall TCA fluxes were similar for both conditions due to the trade-offs associated with reliance on glutamine and/or asparagine. However, glutamine supplementation increased fluxes to alanine, lactate and enrichment of glutathione, N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) and pyrimidine-containing-molecules. The late exponential phase exhibited reduced central carbon metabolism dominated by glucose, while lactate reincorporation and aspartate uptake were preferred over glutamine and asparagine. These 13C studies demonstrate that metabolic flux is process time dependent and can be modulated by varying feed composition.
Silk is a fibrous protein, has been a part of human lives for centuries and was used as suture and textile material. Silk is mainly produced by members of certain arthropods such as spiders, butterflies, mites, and moths. However, recent biotechnological advances have revolutionized silk as a biomaterial for various applications ranging from diverse sensors to robust fibers. The biocompatibility, mechanical resilience, and biodegradability of the material make it a suitable candidate for biomaterials. Silk can also be easily converted into several morphological forms, including fibers, films, sponges, and hydrogels. Provided these abilities, silk has received excellent traction from scientists worldwide for various developments, one of them being its use as a bio-sensor. The diversity of silk materials offers various options, giving scientists the freedom to choose from and personalize them as per their needs. In this review, we foremost look upon the composition, production, properties, and various morphologies of silk. The numerous applications of silk and its derivatives for fabricating biosensors to detect small molecules, macromolecules, and cells have been explored comprehensively. Also, the data from various globally developed sensors using silk have been described into organized tables for each category of molecules, along with their important analytical details.
Endotoxins are considered as the major contributors to the pyrogenic response observed with contaminated pharmaceutical products. Recombinant biopharmaceutical products are manufactured using living organisms, including gram-negative bacteria. Upon the death of a gram-negative bacteria, endotoxins (also known as lipopolysaccharides; LPS) in the outer cell membrane are released into the lysate where it can interact with and form bonds with biomolecules, including target therapeutic compounds. Endotoxin contamination of biologic products may also occur through water, raw materials such as excipients, media, additives, sera, equipment, containers closure systems, and expression systems used in manufacturing. The manufacturing process is therefore in critical need to reduce and remove endotoxins by monitoring raw materials and in-process intermediates at critical steps, in addition to final drug product release testing. In this review, a discussion regarding the progression of endotoxin detection techniques, from crude to refined are presented. We provide a brief overview of the upstream processed used to manufacture therapeutic products and then discuss various downstream purification techniques widely used to purify the products off endotoxins. Finally, we investigate the effectiveness of endotoxin purification processes, both from a perspective of precision as well as cost-effectiveness.
The regulation of cell density is an important segment in microfluidic cell culture, particularly in the repeated assays. Traditionally, the consistent cell density is difficult to achieve owing to the inaccurate regulation of cell density with manual feedback. A novel microfluidic culture method with automatic feedback is proposed for real-time regulation of cell density in this paper. Here, an integrated microfluidic system combining cell culture, density detection and control of proliferation rate was developed. Interdigital electrode structures (IDES) are sputtered on the microchannel for automatically providing the real-time feedback information of impedance. The most sensitive frequency is studied to improve the detection resolution of the sensing chip. Cells were cultured on the chip surface and the cell density was detected by monitoring the alternation of the impedance. The feedback controller is established by least squares support vector machines (LS-SVM). Then, the cell proliferation rate was automatically controlled using the feedback controller to achieve the desired cell density in the repeated assays. The results show that the standard error of this method is 2.8% indicating that the method can keep consistency of cell density in the repeated assays. This study provides a basis for improving the accuracy and repeatability in the further assays of finding the optimal drug concentration.