November-December 2019

November–December 2019: From the Editor

Over a decade ago, the BioProcess International Conference and Exhibition was created by combining formerly separate IBC conferences on upstream, downstream, analytical, and manufacturing topics for the biopharmaceutical industry. They became tracks in the larger program that reflect the coverage of the magazine after which the event was named. Over time, US West, Asian, and European variations on the theme were added to our yearly calendar. And in the past few years, Biotech Week Boston has evolved by similarly bringing…

The Value of Plug-and-Play Automation in Single-Use Technology

Automation can improve efficiency, track performance, adjust operations, and liberate operators from mundane routines. Automation requires a flexible set of tools that align well with the inherent flexibility of single-use technology (SUT). Although SUT flexibility enhances a biomanufacturer’s ability to modify operations to meet the needs of today’s dynamic industry, it also increases timelines and costs related to customizing and validating automated additions. We present herein the findings of a team of industry automation experts who are sharing their experiences…

Detection and Clearance of Viruses in the Biopharmaceutical Industry

Viral contamination is a common threat to all animal- and human-derived biopharmaceuticals. This type of contamination can affect any part of a bioproduction process, so biomanufacturers need to perform viral testing studies and incorporate viral clearance methods into their processes. Viral contaminants can come from cell lines (e.g., endogenous retroviruses) or from adventitious (e.g., mycoplasma) introduction during drug manufacturing. Virus testing of master cell banks (MCBs), working cell banks (WCBs), end-of-production cell banks, and bulk unprocessed harvest material is called…

Host-Cell Protein Analysis to Support Downstream Process Development: A High-Throughput Platform with Automated Sample Preparation

In the past few years, increasing numbers of biotherapeutics have been approved for market (1). Among all the regulatory concerns for commercial biotherapeutics, host-cell proteins (HCPs) are a major class of process-related impurities that remains a critical quality attribute (CQA) for bioprocess development because of associated risks to product quality, safety, and efficacy. HCP identification, clearance, assay setup, and process control are critical points for health authorities, and many guidelines aim for better control of HCP content in final biologic…

Cell Viability in Bioprocesses: Making a Case for Reevaluation

Trypan blue dye exclusion first was proposed as a means of measuring mammalian cell damages over a century ago in 1917 (1). Despite extensive documentation of its limitations (2), it remains the “gold standard” method of measuring cell viability in common use today. But can this method truly measure viability? And how do we define cell viability, for that matter? Those fundamental questions are linked to whether we refer to cells as “alive” or “dead” in the context of bioprocessing…

Making Media a Priority: An Interview with Susan Riley of Advanced Bioprocessing

Susan Riley is vice president and general manager of Advanced Bioprocessing. It’s been a year since Thermo Fisher Scientific’s acquisition of the Advanced Bioprocessing business from Becton Dickinson (BD). Why did Thermo Fisher see the Advanced Bioprocessing (AB) business as a good fit with its life-science offerings? AB has a significant portfolio in premium supplements for cell culture and microbial fermentation. The AB business was seen as a good fit for several reasons: It goes hand-in-glove with Gibco media, for…

Demonstrating Intactness of Biopharmaceutical Products: Intact Molecular-Weight Analysis and Terminal Sequencing of Proteins

Regulations require that biomanufacturers assess the intactness of protein and glycoprotein products as well as confirm the terminal sequences to look for existing variations. ICH Q6B guideline section 6.1.1 c states: Terminal amino acid analysis is performed to identify the nature and homogeneity of the amino- and carboxy-terminal amino acids. If the desired product is found to be heterogeneous with respect to the terminal amino acids, the relative amounts of the variant forms should be determined using an appropriate analytical…

Innovative Strategies for Cell Culture Media Preparation

Although the handling and preparation of cell culture media can seem routine, a number of risks are associated with such operations. Identification and mitigation of associated risks can help ensure consistency of performance, minimize likelihood of contamination, and protect employees while enabling greater efficiencies in upstream processes. Here we describe a number of strategies for reducing risks and streamlining media-related workflows. Simplifying Handling of Cell Culture Powders Media preparation typically is quite labor intensive and poses risks related to containment…

Mitigate Risk with Effector Function Characterization for Antibody Therapeutics

The complexities of biomanufacturing combined with heterogeneity introduced by cellular expression systems present significant challenges to assessing the quality of biologics such as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Information related to the critical quality attributes (CQAs) of MAb drug candidates is unknown during early phase drug development. It must be established empirically by physical, structural, and functional analyses as early as possible to accelerate development and mitigate risk through greater understanding of product characteristics. High-resolution analytical techniques are required to answer questions…

Launch of the First Vaccine Bioprocess Training Program: A Standardized but Flexible Course to Boost the Global Vaccine Industry

Based on the many forms that modern vaccines can take, their manufacturing is complicated. Unlike monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), vaccine manufacturers have no “template” platform to follow. Most vaccine producers develop their manufacturing processes from scratch, a prospect that can be challenging for small to mid-sized companies. Bioprocessing is the key challenge in vaccine manufacturing. Without a well-developed and understood process, a manufacturer will face serious challenges in commercial production: e.g., low yields, high costs, and difficulties in meeting quality standards.…