Emerging Therapeutics

Scalable Manufacturing of Lentiviral Gene Therapies

Lysosomal storage diseases are caused by mutated genes that express defective lysosomal proteins, such as essential enzymes. For example, cystinosis is a metabolic disease caused by a defective gene that encodes cystinosin, an exporter protein (Figure 1). Avrobio develops gene therapies to treat lysosomal storage diseases. On 8 October 2019, the company announced that its first patient had been dosed in the AVR-RD-04 investigational gene therapy program, which involves genetic modification of the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells to treat cystinosis.…

Improving Bioprocess Expression Systems: A Clean Alternative to CRISPR/Cas9

Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells have emerged as a robust platform for bioprocessing serving both early and late-stage biotherapeutic drug supply. However, these cells and other hosts (e.g., HEK293), can be optimized for even greater potential through advanced gene editing. For example, when the endogenous glutamine synthetase (GS) gene is knocked out in CHO cells, a sixfold increase in high-producing cell lines is achieved (1). In another study, CHO with annexin A2 (ANXA2) and cathepsin gene (CTSD) knockouts were introduced…

Bioengineering for “Benchtop Clinical Trials”

Animal studies can be poor predictors of human drug response. Species-specificity of organs is a concern especially for the heart. Many drugs that enter clinical trials will fail ultimately because of unexpected cardiotoxicity. Drug developers would love to mitigate such risks through in vitro human cardiac testing, but human heart biopsy materials and donor organs do not survive well in a laboratory setting. Breakthroughs with human stem cells offer an alternative. It is now possible to take a simple skin…

Challenges and Opportunities in CAR T-Cell Development and Manufacturing

Just about anyone in the biopharmaceutical industry will tell you that cost is now the primary concern in cell and gene therapy development. It hasn’t even been a decade since “manufacturability” was the main issue at hand — and cost has risen organically from related discussions. Regenerative medicine evolved from medical research rather than from drug-development companies, and technologies that worked in clinical settings haven’t translated directly to manufacturing facilities. Cost is often the problem. Early product successes (that ultimately…

Do We Need Separate Regulations for Advanced Therapies?

Before we had the 21 CFR 1271 regulation for tissue therapies, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had determined that regenerative medicine was exceptional enough to warrant its own regulations for good manufacturing practice (GMP). Since 2001, the tissue industry has adapted to those new rules while the FDA stepped up enforcement over time. When a cell or tissue product is regulated under 21 CFR 1271, its specific regulations apply before the general regulations for biologics and drugs. But…

CAR-T at the Crossroads: Is Allogeneic the Way to Go?

As cell therapies move through the clinic toward commercialization, respondents to an Informa Connect industry survey are beginning to look to allogeneic — or off-the-shelf — products as “the next big thing.” Almost 200 people contributed to the Cell Therapy Analytics Report, revealing their current positions within the burgeoning cell and gene therapy space and offering their thoughts and predictions for the future. Most survey respondents work within companies developing oncology products. Of those, the largest group (41%) said that…

eBook: Viral Vectors for Vaccines — A Virtual Conversation on Production and Analysis

Although today’s vaccines are safer, more effective, and more accessible than they were even 20 years ago, the emergence of new, complex pathogens has exposed limitations in traditional vaccine strategies. Viral vector vaccines (VVVs) hold great promise for confronting those now-intractable pathogens. Combining the best features of live-attenuated and DNA-vaccine approaches, these next-generation prophylactics seek to harness the infectivity of non- or low-immunogenicity viruses to shuttle antigen-encoding DNA from target pathogens into host cells. The resulting transduced cells then initiate…

Capacity Analysis for Viral Vector Manufacturing: Is There Enough?

Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) are engineered to replace defective, disease-causing genes to compensate directly for a genetic defect or to encode a therapeutic protein construct (e.g., chimeric antigen receptor, CAR) for disease treatment. In most instances, a viral vector delivers the engineered genetic payload, targeting cells in situ or ex vivo through cellular modification, expansion, and infusion into a patient. Clinical successes of ATMPs bolstered by regulatory approval of products such as Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, Spark Therapeutics), Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel,…

Analytical Testing Strategies for CAR T-Cell Products

Assay lifecycle development for traditional biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) has a clearly defined pathway, from preclinical method selection, development, and optimization through the milestones in preclinical phase trials, and finally to postlicensure method evaluations, comparability, and improvements. The analytical development roadmap for nontraditional biologics such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies and gene therapies are not as clearly defined and can present many challenges along the way. Understanding the “what, how, and when” of analytical…

AAV Vector Manufacturing Platform Selection and Product Development

Adenoassociated virus (AAV) vectors have emerged as the prominent delivery mechanisms of corrective gene therapies. Three such products — Glybera (alipogene tiparvovec, uniQure), Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, Spark Therapeutics), and Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi, AveXis) — have been licensed, and a growing number of candidates are entering late-stage development. In mapping out an AAV gene therapy product development strategy, biomanufacturers should address fundamental considerations for their manufacturing strategies for both phase 1–2 clinical evaluation and translation for commercial market supply. A manufacturing…