Pre-Clinical and Clinical Trials

Addressing Image-Based Compliance and Validation Issues

    Review times for 510(k) submissions have increased by >55% since 2005 because of poor-quality submissions by medical device manufacturers, according to a US FDA July 2011 report (1). Such setbacks can debilitate research and development (R&D) budgets of medical device and pharmaceutical companies and significantly affect their return on investment. As the FDA increases scrutiny of submissions, organizations must ensure adequate controls in assessing drug and device efficacy for preclinical animal studies and clinical trials. Doing so lends…

Clinical Development of Biosimilars

    Biosimilars require comparative studies that are different from the typical placebo-control clinical trials for first-generation proteins. A typical clinical trial programs must show equivalence of a biosimilar to the originator protein. Hans-Peter Guler, senior vice president of clinical development at INC Research, recently discussed with me the primary objectives and approaches to conducting an equivalence design.   By contrast with trials for originator proteins, equivalence trials require a different statistical approach. The biosimilars company needs agreement from the…

Disposable Downstream Processing for Clinical Manufacturing

Although disposable parts and modules have been used in the biopharmaceutical industry since the 1970s, as detailed in the “History” box, total disposable manufacturing has become a viable option only very recently. Whereas liquid storage became disposable in the 1990s, processing operations such as depth filtration, tangential-flow filtration (TFF), and chromatography have still required skids with reusable flow paths that needed cleaning and sanitization. Important recent milestones in total disposable technology included introduction of stirred bioreactors by HyClone (Thermo Scientific)…

Scale-Up of a Plasmid DNA Purification Process

    RecipharmCobra Biologics, Keele (previously Cobra Biomanufacturing Plc) has been producing plasmid DNA for clinical trials for more than 10 years and has an approved site under the EU clinical trials directive. During this period, the company has produced more than 40 plasmids (ranging from 500 mg to 5 g) for 25 customers in Europe and the United States. These plasmids have been used for gene therapy and vaccines as well as to produce viral vectors. RecipharmCobra has developed…

Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting for CGMP Processing of Therapeutic Cells

    Cell therapy using embryonic or adult stem cells for regenerative medicine is generating high interest in the global medical community and in the general population.Physicians and patients are looking to cell therapies as potentially curative treatments for diseases such as diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, Graft versus Host disease (GvHD), and cancer. Cell-based therapeutic products have been administered in clinics for nearly 90 years in the form of blood transfusions and for 50 years in the…

Quantitative Crowdsourcing

This past fall, we collaborated with researchers from MIT and Harvard Business School to develop and launch the Pharmer’s Market, a prediction market that aggregates the opinions, insight, and experience of a wide range of pharmaceutical professionals to forecast outcomes of drug clinical trials. The market is designed to be a showcase of how pharmaceutical development could run in the future. This concept was born when we agreed on a critical premise: Discovery should be a collective process. That isn’t…

A Formulation Strategy for Quickly Reaching Clinical Trials

The aim of any company making protein-based therapeutics is to get to the clinic quickly with a product formulation that has the best chance of success. Any number of specific formulation development and manufacturing issues can keep such drugs from advancing expeditiously to the clinic. To be successful organizations must balance the strengths and weaknesses of each individual molecule against timelines, budgets, and priorities. Ultimately, it’s not just about deploying the best methodologies and processes, but of applying them appropriately…

A Few Small Steps for Biotech Will Yield Giant Leaps for Humankind

Biotechnology’s mission has never been more critical. In a call to action reminiscent of President Kennedy’s challenge to place a man on the moon in the 1960s, President Obama has challenged the scientific community to seek “a cure for cancer in our time.” The challenge is tremendous, but the place to look for such a momentous and meaningful achievement is among the great minds of scientists and inside the research laboratories of biotech companies. And that is but the tip…

Overcoming Barriers to Success

Eli Lilly’s 2001 annual report stated that “Xigris… will prove to be one of our industry’s genuine breakthroughs” (1). The company believed that its first-in-class drug “could help save one in five people who otherwise would die” from severe sepsis. One of the world’s oldest and most virulent killers, sepsis is the third most common cause of death for hospitalized patients in the developed world after heart disease and cancer. In the United States alone, 750,000 patients are hospitalized with…

A Vital Link

      Clinical studies serve as a bridge between biopharmaceutical laboratories and the patients who need therapies. Drugs need to be tested in small populations before they are made available to the world at large. In a 2006 interview with BioProcess International, editorial advisor Michiel Ultee (vice president of Process Sciences for Laureate Pharma) said, “Until your product is tested in humans — and shown to be safe and to have some efficacy — then you really don’t have…