April 2008

In the Laboratory Automation Zone

When you hear the phrase “laboratory analysis” on a TV commercial, maybe you imagine a technician in a white coat and safety goggles pouring a chemical from one test tube to another. Technicians still wear white coats and goggles, but today, in many labs, they’re not the ones pouring the chemicals. Instead, tiny trays carrying minuscule dabs of samples are whisked by robots from one analytical workstation to another. The workstations are equipped with ultraprecise instrument systems to prepare the…

Cutting Down Process Time and Costs

Because the biopharmaceutical industry operates as an industry rather than a nonprofit, the bottom line is an important consideration in every aspect of product design. From laboratory automation methods that speed discovery to streamlined manufacturing processes that incorporate the themes of operational excellence, Lean manufacturing, and quality by design, the industry is undeniably focused on minimizing cost and maximizing revenue. At the BioProcess International European Conference and Exhibition, the Scale-Up and Manufacturing track will focus on economic strategy and technology…

In the Industrial Zone

Figure 1. The same genomic and proteomic technologies used to discover new drugs and therapeutics are also changing the way we live and some of the products we buy. Technologies have yielded new enzyme biocatalysts, used in producing raw and intermediate materials and consumer products. In addition to improving crop and food production, companies are using the tools of biotechnology to manufacture materials from renewable and sustainable resources, build environmentally sound industrial processes, and develop innovative solutions to growing global…

Austria Welcomes BioProcessors

When it comes to agriculture, the people of Austria are among the most dead-set against so-called “genetically modified organisms” of any population in Europe (1). But as is so often the case elsewhere, their attitude toward biotechnology used in medicine is much more friendly. This may have to do with the country’s traditional strength in environmental biotech (ranging from wastewater treatment and organic waste composting to anaerobic digestion for biogas generation) and also food biotechnology. That is the suggestion of…

In the Facility Design Zone

As companies grow and expand their product offerings, it becomes necessary to consider manufacturing space. The decision to build is not made lightly, because CGMP manufacturing space comes at a steep price. Estimates range from $500 to $1,400 per ft2 to build new biopharmaceutical manufacturing space (1,2,3). As Jean-Francois Denault, Agnes Coquet, and Vincent Dodelet point out in their article in the February issue of BioProcess International, non-GMP biomanufacturing space comes at a much lower cost due to the lack…

High-Throughput Process Development

Increasing pipelines, shorter timelines, talent scarcity, reduced budgets — all these are issues faced by companies working in today’s biotechnology environment. The ultimate goal of a process development team is to stay off the “critical path” to drug approval. But how do they complete the necessary work to create a robust manufacturing process in light of such pressures? To increase the effectiveness of development, many companies are turning to high-throughput technologies within their development platforms. Such technologies promise that scientists…

In the Drug Delivery Zone

A rule of thumb in drug development states that the larger a therapeutic molecule is, the more trouble it will be to make, ship/store, and administer to patients. Biotherapeutics include proteins (such as antibodies), vaccines, some smaller peptides (such as hormones), DNA for gene-transfer therapies, cells and tissues, and to a lesser extent blood-fractionation products, allergenics, and RNA/oligonucleotides. Biomolecules are big and unwieldy, they’re produced in complex mixtures by biological processes, and they face numerous challenges in storage and within…

Current Status of Protein Quantification Technologies

With the help of rapid advancements in molecular biology and genetic engineering, a rising number of biotherapeutics are being developed and marketed. The quality and safety requirements for this class of active ingredients has steadily increased over the decades since Eli Lilly put forth the first insulin manufactured using genetically modified organisms in 1982. This has led to dynamic developments in protein analysis and proteomics intended to meet a growing demand for new technologies and sophisticated analytical techniques to characterize…

Sharing Is What It’s All About

Recently in Washington, DC, two conferences were held on the topics of cell and gene therapy. The California Separation Science Society (CASSS, www.casss.org) hosted a Well-Characterized Biological Products (WCBP) Chemicals, Materials, and Controls (CMC) strategy forum on “Current Practices for Assessing the Comparability and Stability of Gene Therapy Products,” while blocks away, Phacilitate hosted the 2008 Cell and Gene Therapy forum. At the WCBP CMC strategy forum, participants heard the US FDA–CBER perspective on the importance of comparability studies for…

In the Clinical Trials Zone

A new product takes a long and winding road from a laboratory to the patients it is designed to help. Many factors and organizations affect just how many months and dollars it will take to shepherd a new product from preclinical studies to market. Carefully documented, regulatory-compliant clinical trials are key to marketing approval. Clinical trials involve a choreographed network of regulatory agencies, sponsor companies, and clinical investigators. Myriad specialists in that network include those who produce and deliver an…