Upstream Processing

A Brief History of Adherent Cell Culture: Where We Come From and Where We Should Go

In the past 20 years, novel therapeutics have become a major segment of biopharmaceutical research and development, particularly for immune disorders and cancer. Progress in gene therapies could bring cures for once deadly and debilitating genetic disorders such as hemophilia or muscular dystrophy. Biologic drug products offer potential treatments that have not been possible with traditional (chemistry-based) approaches. But such products also are more difficult to produce cost effectively at an industrial scale because of the intricacies associated with biological…

Biopharmaceutical Characterization,
Part 1: Biological Assays —
A Conference Report

In late October 2018, KNect365 brought together more than 250 analytical specialists to discuss characterization of well-characterized biologics in Rockville, MD. Speakers from the US Food and Drug Administration joined experts from leading biopharmaceutical companies, service providers, and consultancies, including BPI editorial advisor Nadine Ritter (president and analytical advisor of Global Biotech Experts). She began the final day moderating a special town-hall session where audience members could pose their regulatory questions to a panel of FDA reviewers, and she ended…

The Need for Adherent Cell Manufacturing: Production Platform and Media Strategies Drive Cell Production Economics

Most commercial biopharmaceuticals originated from academic research laboratories and start-up development laboratories. Despite such products having differences in modalities and targeted disease indications, and whether their target patient populations are relatively small or approaching blockbuster status, at a key point in development, biopharmaceutical production must scale up from laboratory to commercial production. That movement from research to development and then to manufacturing forces attention on economics and speed to market, and it drives innovative approaches to producing biopharmaceutical cell compositions…

Cell Culture Scale-Up in Stirred-Tank Single-Use Bioreactors

Bioprocess development usually is carried out in systems with small working volumes. This helps save time and resources because, at small scale, several experiments can be conducted in parallel. Costs for media are kept low, and relatively little laboratory space is required to operate small-scale bioreactors. But over the course of development, biopharmaceutical companies need more material for characterization, trial runs, and finally for commercialization. They transition to bench scale and then up to pilot or production scale with the…

Inactivation of Enveloped Viruses: Seeking Alternatives to a Problematic Surfactant

Triton X-100 detergent makes an interesting case study in bioprocess sustainability strategy. Also known as octylphenol ethoxylate (OPE), this nonionic surfactant has many uses in biopharmaceutical research and development. Among other laboratory applications, it is used to lyse cells and DNA in research, to solubilize membrane proteins and decellularize animal-derived tissues, to reduce the surface tension of aqueous solutions during immunostaining, and to remove sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) from polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) gels for analysis. It also serves as…

A Novel 3D Culture System for High-Throughput Hepatoxicity Screening

Cells grown as three-dimensional (3D) spheroids are thought to more closely mimic in vivo physiology in terms of morphology, structural complexity, and phenotype. Being more physiologically relevant, 3D cultures can be highly predictive for compound profiling and evaluating cytotoxicity, a critical step in evaluating chemotherapeutic drug candidates. Unfortunately, evaluation of drug cytotoxicity traditionally has relied on the use of two-dimensional (2D) cell culture monolayers. When grown in monolayers, cells are not exposed to soluble gradients, are forced into an apical-basal…

Certain Approaches to Understanding Sources of Bioassay Variability

During lifecycle development of a biological assay (bioassay), identifying and reducing sources of variability might be required to improve method performance. Here I recommend some statistical and graphical approaches (consistent with USP <1033>) for practitioners to identify variation from experimental results (1). Sources of Variation in a Bioassay To correctly identify sources of variation in a bioassay, analysts must consider how that bioassay is to be executed. In particular, the experience and technical expertise of each analyst expected to execute…

Improving Bioreactor Performance Measuring Dissolved Oxygen to Determine kLa

In recent years the biopharmaceutical industry has significantly increased the demands it makes on bioreactor systems. Efficient and reproducible production of active pharmaceuticals of high quality and in large quantities is of highest priority. However, bioprocessing is a complex topic. Numerous factors affect growth of cells in culture but are difficult to determine and interpret reliably. One of the most relevant performance parameters is the volumetric mass transfer coefficient (kLa). It describes the efficiency of gas transfer (e.g., oxygen) from…

Cell Culture Media: An Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient or Ancillary Material?

Cell-based therapies are used to treat diseases that require the replacement of diseased, dysfunctional, and injured cells (1). To produce these therapies, a wide range of reagents and materials such as antibodies, growth factors, and enzymes are used in their manufacturing processes. Such necessary materials are administered through a cell culture medium. Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are the main ingredients that make products therapeutic. Ancillary materials (AMs) and raw materials (RMs) are essential components used during production but are not…

Single-Use Bioreactors: Performance and Usability Considerations, Part 2

As the biopharmaceutical industry continues toward streamlined bioprocessing and intensified cell-culture biology, selection criteria of single-use bioreactors (S.U.B.s) and other bioprocessing technologies will become increasingly rigorous, emphasizing the importance of considering every aspect of technologies under evaluation. In part 1, we discussed performance for process control, including the maintenance of critical process parameters (CPPs), and highlighted bioreactor performance (e.g., mass transfer, power per volume, and temperature control) as a critical consideration during the selection of S.U.B.s (1). Part 2 focuses…