Product Characterization

Hamster Phospholipase B-Like 2 (PLBL2): A Host-Cell Protein Impurity in Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies Derived from Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells

All recombinant protein biotherapeutics must be tested for the presence of residual host-cell protein (HCP) impurities (1–3). The most common analytical method for doing so is a polyclonal sandwich immunoassay. Polyclonal anti-HCP antibodies are selected to recognize the broadest population of HCPs possible. The immunogen and analytical standard are produced from a blank-run fermentation that mimics the production run but lacks the specific biotherapeutic protein. Because of the large number of impurities present in harvested cell-culture fluid (HCCF) that might…

Building a Robust Biological Assay for Potency Measurement

Potency is a critical quality attribute of a biological product and is often determined by a biological assay (also called bioassay or biopotency assay). Specifically, potency is the biological activity or capacity of a product directly linked to its clinical efficacy. Potency tests are performed as part of product release, comparability studies, and stability testing. Nonbiological methods — which measure a product’s molecular or biochemical characteristics (e.g., ligand-binding assay) — have gained interest as replacements for often troublesome bioassays. Even…

Unwanted Immunogenicity: From Risk Assessment to Risk Management

Although vaccines and immunotherapies are designed to engage the human immune system in fighting disease, unwanted immunogenicity can be a major problem for protein-based therapeutics. Some patients produce antidrug antibodies (ADAs), which might lead to drug inactivation or adverse effects. Even human and humanized proteins have proven to be surprisingly immunogenic in some cases, suggesting that immune tolerance requires careful consideration in biologic product design. In rushing to deliver new drugs to market, some biotherapeutics developers have overlooked factors that…

Predicting Aggregation Propensity and Monitoring Aggregates in ADCs

Antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) are monoclonal antibodies coupled to cytotoxic agents with stable linkers. ADCs travel to target cells, where the antibody binds to its antigen expressed on the cell surface. Upon binding, the full ADC can be internalized by a process called receptor-mediated endocytosis. That process is followed by lysosomal degradation of ADC complexes, which ultimately leads to release of the cytotoxic agent and apoptosis of the target cell. Drugs used in ADCs can be up to a thousand times…

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UV-Vis Based Determination of Protein Concentration: Validating and Implementing Slope Measurements Using Variable Pathlength Technology

No longer are scientists bound to the time-consuming, error-prone use of dilution factors and fixed-pathlength measurements in determining the concentration of an analyte in solution. Using the slope spectroscopy technique, the Solo VPE system (from C Technologies) offers a new method of determining analyte concentration based on the Beer–Lambert law and slope derived from absorbance measurements made at multiple pathlengths (1). Mathematics: The Beer–Lambert law is expressed as A = αlc, where A is the measured absorbance, α is the…

Higher-Order Structure Comparability: Case Studies of Biosimilar Monoclonal Antibodies

Great successes for monoclonal antibody (MAb)–based biologics over the past decade have provided many valuable options for patients combating some of the most serious diseases in the world, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. MAbs and antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) are among the fastest growing biologic segments in development, with hundreds of candidates currently under clinical study. Meanwhile, society is facing the challenge of increasingly higher costs in healthcare including the cost of pharmaceuticals. With an aging population in many parts of…

Site-Specific Characterization of Glycosylation on Protein Drugs

A large proportion of biotherapeutic products are glycoproteins. These include erythropoietin and other cytokines, antibodies, glycosyltransferases, and glycosidases, which together generate billions of dollars in sales worldwide. Such drugs are inherently complex. As new treatments emerge and biosimilars are evaluated, the need to better understand their molecular structures is more acute than ever. Therapeutic glycoproteins are typically produced as recombinant products in cell culture systems. Glycosylation is of major importance during development of these drugs because their glycan chains markedly…

Reference Standards for Therapeutic Proteins: Current Regulatory and Scientific Best Practices

Sponsors developing and manufacturing protein therapeutic products use a variety of analytical tests (e.g., cell-based potency and chromatographic assays) to assess quality attributes of their active ingredients and drug products. Those tests are used to assess product quality in a number of activities, including characterization, comparability, lot release, and confirmation product quality and stability. Reference standards play a critical role in calibrating and confirming the suitability of such tests and in helping analysts to draw scientifically sound conclusions from data…

Activatable Immunoconjugates for Target Cancer-Cell–Specific Diagnosis and Therapy

In cancer treatment, early diagnosis and targeted therapies are assumed to yield the highest cure rates. However, most current methods are limited by their low sensitivity to early disease and a lack of specificity for targeted cell killing. Newly developed, activatable immunoconjugates assist in the accurate detection of cancer through in vivo imaging with high target-to-background contrast (1,2). They also provide for the possibility of highly specific, light-mediated treatment with minimal effects on healthy cells surrounding tumors (3). In fact,…

Enabling Technologies

Many technological advancements in recent years have enabled companies to shorten time to market, to better understand their manufacturing processes, and to characterize their products well. In BPI’s December 2013 issue (pages 47–50), I reported on the first half of an informal reader survey about those technologies, with commentary from some survey participants and others. This month concludes with my examination of analytical, formulation/fill–finish, and facilities technologies. Analytical Technologies After writing several installments of our new “BPI Lab” series this…