BioProcess Insider Interview – Marc Hummersone, Astrea Bioseparations

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BioProcess Insider brings the biotechnology news as it breaks. For the on-demand BPI Theater at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s 2021 convention, founding editor Dan Stanton interviewed leading biopharmaceutical executives in early June
2021.

Marc Hummerson, senior director of research and development, Astrea Bioseparations

Highlighting the rapid proliferation of cell and gene therapies (CGTs), Hummerson described how his company seeks to support downstream processing for emerging therapies. Hummerson reflected that when he joined the biopharmaceutical industry in 2006, developers of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) expressed great need for innovative purification solutions. The CGT sector finds itself in much the same position today, he explained, because chromatography resins that were optimized for those early products are not well suited to retaining molecules as large as cells, viruses, and even exosomes.

To support advanced therapies, Astrea is pursuing nanofiber-based technologies. Compared with resins, fiber-based media feature larger pores. They also accommodate higher ligand densities and flow rates. Together, such advantages could reduce process requirements and costs significantly, helping to increase the affordability and accessibility of CGTs and other novel treatments.

Astrea is collaborating with several companies to bolster its capabilities. Hummerson called particular attention to Nanopareil, a recent addition to the Gamma Biosciences network that specializes in nanofiber chromatography supports. Its partnership with Astrea could not only accelerate research and development (R&D) of next-generation chromatographic tools, but also enable the Gamma group to realize its broader goal of assembling a portfolio of leading, comprehensive bioseparations solutions. Besides leveraging internal and group-wide resources, Astrea is licensing Avacta Life Sciences’ Affimer (stefin A) platform to address challenges with ligand discovery for advanced therapies.

Although the Gamma portfolio is still young, it already has gathered several forms of expertise that could drive market-ready innovations in downstream processing. By learning from its sister companies, Astrea is deepening its ability to provide complete chromatographic solutions from ligand discovery through commercial biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

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