Emerging Therapeutics

New Antibody Formats on the Block:
More Complex Modalities Demand Innovation in Manufacturing and Purification

Some of the latest, most promising therapeutic developments in the biologics industry use antibody fragments — either separate functional subunits of antibodies or recombinant molecules that are composed of immunoglobulin domains. The most popular fragments are antigen-binding fragments (Fabs), variable single-chain fragments (scFvs), diabodies, and nanobodies. Such molecules raise several advantages over their parent molecules for upstream production but pose several challenges for downstream purification. To facilitate antibody-fragment capture, Tosoh Bioscience has developed Toyopearl AF-rProtein L-650F resin. Its ligand uses…

Ligand-Based Exosome Affinity Purification: A Scalable Solution to Extracellular Vesicle Downstream Bottlenecks

Novel therapeutics based on extracellular vesicles (EVs) recently passed a critical development milestone. During 2020, some of the first experimental EV products developed by biopharmaceutical companies entered human clinical trials (1–3). EVs are nanometer-sized, lipid-wrapped spheres released by almost every cell type in the human body. EVs are loaded with a cargo of proteins, lipids, and RNA, and they are tagged with surface markers that favor uptake by target cells. Thus, EVs are a key mode of cell-to-cell communication (4).…

Eliminating the Analytical Bottleneck in Production and Purification of mRNA

COVID-19 has focused a spotlight on the ability of mRNA technology to accelerate vaccine development and approval (1). That same technology can hasten development and approval of other therapeutic classes, including cancer immunotherapy, protein replacement, and gene therapy. Fulfilling those opportunities imposes significant challenges on process developers and manufacturers to improve existing processes. Scale-up to produce millions of doses (tens of kilograms) compounds those challenges. Furthermore, every step of the journey requires high-performance analytical methods, to ensure patient safety and…

Space Travel Rockets Mitochondria’s Central Role into the Spotlight

Mitochondria originated millions of years ago, likely when a eukaryotic cell incorporated a bacterium. Thus, mitochondrial DNA strands are 200,000× smaller than those from a cell’s nucleus. Depending on cell type, thousands of mitochondria can reside within the walls of one human cell. The scientific community long has considered these organelles to be cellular “energy factories.” But their centrality to human health and disease only now has come to light. In a breakthrough study published in Cell (1), biologists collaborated…

Cell-Free Expression: A Technology with Truly Disruptive Potential

Bioprocess engineer Beatrice Melinek is a postdoctoral research fellow at University College London’s Future Targeted Healthcare Manufacturing (FTHM) Hub, where she focuses on the use of cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) as a platform for distributed production of stratified biotherapeutics. Previously Melinek specialized in purification of viral vectors and vaccines, with an engineering doctorate (EngD) in biochemical engineering and postdoctoral experience in UCL’s hematology department developing a new chromatography-based analytical method for measuring empty and full adenoassociated virus (AAV) capsids. She…

eBook: ADCs — Evolving Links in the Biopharmaceutical Pipeline

Antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) developers both old and new are talking about the next generation of drug candidates coming through their pipelines. In April 2021, Zynlonta (loncastuximab tesirine, from ADC Therapeutics) became the eleventh such product to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But with dozens of ADC candidates currently in clinical trials, those 11 products represent the tip of the ADC iceberg. In this eBook, Dan Stanton (founding editor of BioProcess Insider) explores ADC production history,…

eBook: mRNA — Revisiting a Technology That Has Rocketed into Success

At the end of 2018, BPI published its first eBook about mRNA drug products — and quite a lot has happened since then! Our initial report highlighted companies working on mRNA therapeutics for cystic fibrosis, heart disease, and cancer, as well as vaccines. The latter approach took off in 2020 with the advent of SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a stunningly short time, the biopharmaceutical industry has learned much about manufacture, formulation, product design, and distribution of mRNA…

Untapped Potential of Tissue Engineering: The Three Obstacles Holding It Back

Regenerative medicine is the interdisciplinary field comprising tissue engineering, cell therapy, and gene therapy. These biopharmaceutical modalities, also referred to as advanced therapies, are growing rapidly, characterized by groundbreaking therapeutic advances that have the potential to change how healthcare providers deliver care. As Figure 1 shows, cell and gene therapies have gained traction over the past decade, as evidenced by large increases in investment and the number of marketed products. By contrast, tissue engineering investment and product commercialization has lagged…

Ask the Expert: High-Yield mRNA Processing — From Plasmid to Highly Purified Product

Interest in industrial-scale production of messenger RNA (mRNA) has surged amid rapid development of mRNA-based vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. During an 18 February 2021 Ask the Expert presentation, Aleš Štrancar (chief executive officer of BIA Separations, a Sartorius company) reminded attendees that no platform approach yet exists for mRNA production and that much remains to be learned about manufacturing such products at commercial scales. He described current production challenges and shared BIA’s efforts to devise flexible mRNA purification tools. Štrancar’s Presentation…

How to Improve the Capturing of Antibody Fragments

Some of the latest promising biopharmaceutical drug substances are antibody fragments. Antibody fragments are either separate functional subunits of antibodies or recombinant molecules, which, just like antibodies, are composed of immunoglobulin domains. These drugs offer several therapeutic advantages over conventional monoclonal antibodies. Upstream processing for antibody fragments is easier than it is for standard antibodies. Recombinant-based antibody fragments can be modified to meet specific needs of affinity, avidity, valence, and action mode. They also can be produced in prokaryotic cells…