June 2022

June 2022: From the Editor

Although somewhat of an arbitrary practice, celebrating an anniversary milestone offers a chance for useful and productive reflections. Events of the past couple of years placed a number of projects on hold — especially some that we wanted to launch at in-person events. But finally, coming this month, we are introducing the BPI Best Places to Work in Biotech awards. In the midst of celebrating the publication’s 20-year anniversary, and given the current job market, we feel that this is…

Facing a Unique Challenge: Building an In-House Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Facility During the Pandemic

In 2019, Expression Therapeutics (ET) obtained investigational new drug (IND) approval for its lead clinical product. The third-generation lentiviral vector (LV) expresses a bioengineered coagulation factor VIII to be used in an autologous hematopoietic stem- and progenitor-cell gene therapy for patients with severe hemophilia A. Like many other emerging biotechnology companies, ET’s initial strategy used reputable contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) for vector and cell manufacturing needs and a prominent clinical contract research organization (CRO) with extensive experience in…

Multimodal Facility Design for Cell and Gene Therapies

Cell and gene therapies (CGTs) are progressing rapidly through development pipelines and advancing through clinical trial phases. Manufacturing capacity will need to be sufficient when such products are approved for commercialization. Thus, biomanufacturers are seeking ways to leverage multimodal facilities. I spoke with Stephen Judd, who is principal process engineer for biologics and cell and gene therapy at DPS Group, an engineering and construction management consultancy. We talked about design considerations for multimodal facilities, how such facilities contribute to overall…

The Ultimate Business Continuity Challenge: A Case Study in Ukraine

The past few years have taught people around the world that “It can’t happen here” is never a good bet. From the COVID-19 pandemic to political upheavals to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we’re all experiencing a reality that would have seemed impossible not so long ago. And as numerous analysts and experts discuss on television and social media and in other publications what such events could mean politically and socially, we at BPI must maintain our focus on the biopharmaceutical…

Elevating Your Pharmaceutical Facility to the Next Digital Plant Maturity Level

Pharma 4.0 technologies, offshoots from the Industry 4.0 model, focus on introducing new technologies for increased levels of digitalization within the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Many companies hesitate to embrace the Pharma 4.0 concept fully even though digitalization efforts are leading the way toward new levels of efficiency and productivity. The biopharmaceutical industry currently lags behind other industries in implementing digital technologies because of its rigorous and strict regulatory requirements. Adopting Pharma 4.0 tools and concepts benefits manufacturers by harmonizing the…

Robots in Biomanufacturing: A Road Map for Automation of Biopharmaceutical Operations

As BioPhorum authors stated in 2019, “It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with biomanufacturing that current designs of bioprocess facilities as well as associated manufacturing spaces and support operations require excessive amounts of manual labor and manual interventions that lead to high labor costs and, consequently, total cost to supply” (1). Back then, a realization was starting to take hold in the biopharmaceutical industry that modern robotics showed great potential. However, a cohesive vision of their future…

Pressure Vessels for Biomanufacturing: Basic Considerations for Cleaning and Process Compatibility

Pressure vessels are enclosed containers used to contain liquids, vapors, and gases at pressures that are significantly higher or lower than the ambient pressure of their surroundings. Equipment such as bioreactors, holding tanks, mixing tanks, separators, and heat exchangers all are examples of pressure vessels. As such, they form an integral part of biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Apart from pressure containment itself, a key challenge in building pressure vessels is making them meet the high purity and cleanability requirements of bioprocessing. As…

Increasing Dynamic Binding Capacity of Oligo(dT) for mRNA Purification: Experimental Results Using CIM 96-Well Plates

Messenger RNA (mRNA) emerged as a powerful therapeutic tool for treatments in gene therapy, oncology, and infectious diseases, as recently demonstrated by vaccines against Covid-19. mRNA is produced by an enzymatic reaction that can be rapidly designed and scaled-up, and the platform is highly adaptable to different targets. One of the greatest challenges in mRNA production is the removal of process-related impurities stemming from in vitro transcription (IVT) reaction, such as residual nucleotide triphosphates, DNA template, enzymes, abortive transcripts. Affinity-based…

Biologics Manufacturing Without the Big Bioreactors

Over the past few decades, the biotechnology industry has brought to patients a medical revolution with the most advanced medicine ever seen. Yet much of the world’s population cannot afford or get access to these breakthrough therapeutics. That is in part a consequence of the high associated costs of development and biomanufacturing, extended times for regulatory review and approval, and a lack of regional manufacturing and dependable supply chains (because of facility costs and a scarcity of expertise). The recent…

Ask the Expert: Using Monolith-Based Chromatography to Monitor In Vitro Transcription Reactions

In vitro transcription (IVT) is a critical step in messenger RNA (mRNA) production. In a March 2022 webinar, Rok Sekirnik (head of process development for mRNA and plasmid DNA (pDNA) applications at BIA Separations, part of Sartorius) explained that optimizing concentrations of reagents used during IVT helps to maximize the amount of mRNA that is produced. Drug developers have great need for analytical methods that can measure IVT in real time. Sekirnik showed how CIMac PrimaS monolith chromatography columns enable…