QA/QC

Prior-Knowledge Assessments

    Process characterization (PC) studies are experiments performed primarily at laboratory scale to demonstrate process robustness and provide data necessary for planning, risk mitigation, and successful execution of process validation (1, 2). These typically involve extensive, multifactorial testing designed to determine the effects of operational parameter perturbations and raw materials on process performance and product quality (1, 2). Product-specific information from development studies may be used to help guide PC study design; however, such information may be limited or…

Integrity Testing of Ultrafiltration Systems for Biopharmaceutical Applications

    Ultrafiltration (UF) is a membrane-based separation technology commonly used in the biopharmaceutical industry for concentration or diafiltration of protein solutions to remove low–molecular-weight (LMW) impurities or exchange buffers. The nominal MW limit of UF membranes ranges from 1,000 Da (1 kDa) to 1,000,000 Da (1,000 kDa). A target product is retained by the membrane while lower-MW solutes or impurities pass through (1). For a target product with a smaller MW than the impurities, separation is accomplished by allowing…

A Decade of Characterization

    Over the past 10 years, the biopharmaceutical industry has placed increasing pressure on analytical laboratories, whose work is more important to the success of biotherapeutic products than ever before. Nearly concomitant with the appearance of BPI on the scene, the US Food and Drug Administration put forth its final report on the 21st century good manufacturing practice initiative, which in changing how regulators would review product applications, changed how companies must approach them (1). The guiding principles —…

Balancing the Statistical Tightrope

During one development meeting early in my industrial career, a process development group member asked me whether the value my group had reported in one result was okay to use. I confidently replied “Yes, it’s fine. It’s about 40, somewhere between 38 and 42. The other person raised his eyebrows. “About 40?” In response, I somewhat awkwardly mumbled “Yes, probably…about that” — an answer not met with full understanding, but rather concern. My answer hadn’t been incorrect. The result was…

An Industry Perspective on Quality By Design

The US FDA’s quality by design (QbD) initiative and associated ICH Q8, Q9, and Q10 guidance documents are increasingly embraced by the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry for ensuring consistent product quality and lower costs of development and manufacturing. One critical problem the industry faces involves understanding how to implement QbD and determine the benefit of such projects — which require the work of many groups across quality, manufacturing sciences, and engineering departments. Here we present the results from a survey of…

“Hard Cell”: Potency Testing for Cellular Therapy Products

Potency testing is defined in 21 CFR Part 600.3(s) as “the specific ability or capacity of the product, as indicated by appropriate laboratory tests or by adequately controlled clinical data obtained through the administration of the product in the manner intended, to effect a given result” (1). Potency measurement is especially important for complex products such as cellular therapies (CTs). It is considered an essential aspect of the quality-control system for a CT drug substance and drug product. It is…

Host Cellular Protein Quantification

Host-cell proteins (HCPs) are bioprocess-related impurities that may be present in intermediate or final biopharmaceutical products such as recombinant monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Although the potential clinical and genetic effects of HCPs are largely unknown, studies have shown that HCPs may cause immune responses and adverse reactions in patients when present at sufficient high levels (1,2,3). Consequently, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Commission regulations require that the level of HCP in a bioproduct be quantitatively measured during manufacturing…

How QbD and the FDA Process Validation Guidance Affect Product Development and Operations, Part 2

    Earlier this year, the FDA issued its long-awaited process validation guidance document, which had been several years in development. It is well written and effectively articulates what many progressive companies have been thinking and doing for years. But many people in the industry are asking questions.   Part 1 of this article described the history of process validation before the FDA’s quality by design (QbD) initiative and discussed QbD in general. It also described the new process validation…

Analysis and Immunogenic Potential of Aggregates and Particles

    The conclusion of this CMC Forum continued to focus on the latest developments in detection and characterization of protein aggregates (1). Afternoon sessions detailed the most recent experiments probing the role of protein aggregates in immunogenicity, with discussions on the best models to use and initial results. Topics included potential thresholds for immunogenicity, linking laboratory and clinical data, and predicting and testing potential immunogenicity of products throughout a development lifecycle.     Afternoon Sessions   Amy Rosenberg (Division…

Analysis and Immunogenic Potential of Aggregates and Particles

    The number of biotherapeutics on the market has rapidly increased during the past several years. Such proteins commonly exhibit a concentration-dependent propensity for self-association, which often leads to the formation of aggregates that range in size from nanometers (oligomers) to microns (subvisible and visible particles). Publications two years ago focused attention on the potential immunogenicity of active-ingredient aggregates ((1,2,3,4). The authors discussed lack of specificity of compendial measurements and inability of other current methods to address potential effects…