Business

2012 in Review

As children growing up, we could barely contain our anticipation for those banner, milestone years: entering first grade, becoming a teenager, turning 16 and then 18, high-school graduation. But even the most innocuous “in-between” years saw notable change and maturation, and 2012 was just such a year for the growing cell therapy sector. Although it is not likely to be noted as a pivotal or breakthrough year, 2012 nonetheless delivered some significant and welcome signposts of continued sector maturation. Here…

FDA Biopharmaceutical Product Approvals and Trends in 2012

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted 18 new biopharmaceutical product approvals in 2012, covering a broad range of innovation, novelty, and healthcare and market impact. The total includes 16 full/original approvals: biologics license applications (BLAs) and new drug applications (NDAs). The other two products received supplemental approvals, both of them influenza vaccines. Among the 18 approvals were eight recombinant proteins, including two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and one engineered antibody-like “trap” molecule. Table 1 lists them all. Table 1: FDA…

A Powerful Pairing

Biological product and process characterization are not new to this quality by design (QbD) and process analytical technology (PAT) era. In the 1990s we saw the FDA introduce the concept of well-characterized biologics: an acknowledgment that analytical technology had advanced to the point where the bioprocess did not necessarily (or not fully, anyway) define a biopharmaceutical product. That ultimately led to the regulation of some types of products within the United States moving from the purview of FDA’s Center for…

Automation of Cell Therapy Biomanufacturing

Biomanufacturing automation is an established mission-critical step in the commercialization pathway for conventional therapeutics, including small molecules and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) (1). The prospect of a potential biologic progressing into late-stage clinical trials without a robust biomanufacturing strategy to support at least pilot-plant scale bioprocessing is simply unthinkable. Conversely, the cell therapy industry (or at least a significant proportion of it) regard this as a trend that is unlikely to be mirrored as the industry develops. The aim of this…

PEGylation of Biologics

In the 1970s, life-science researchers envisioned protein therapeutics as the ultimate targeted therapy. Companies could use them to address genetic deficiencies and cancer, among other disease classes, as well as to nudge the immune system for treating autoimmune disorders. The first therapeutic proteins were derived from animal or microbial cells, so patients launched immune responses to them that could curtail their activity and produce dangerous side effects. PEGylation was initially used to prevent immune responses with such drugs. PEG is…

Managing Contamination Risk While Maintaining Quality in Cell-Therapy Manufacturing

With an increasing number of cell therapies becoming available for patient use, the need for controlled and consistent manufacturing and delivery of cell products is increasingly important. A closed cell culture process not only offers control and consistency, but may also relieve labor demands. Single-use components within a closed process also can reduce contamination risk. Closed systems with single-use platforms may reduce the risk of biological contamination and cross-contamination that could inadvertently be introduced into cell-culture processes. Such contaminants use…

Stress-Induced Antibody Aggregates

Biomanufacturing of monoclonal antibodies (MAb) involves a number of unit operations, including cell culture in a bioreactor followed by chromatography and filtration. Purification is intended to remove impurities, such as protein aggregates, but some such operations may actually generate protein aggregation (1). Table 1 summarizes potential sources of aggregate formation during biomanufacturing processes. Aggregates are multimers of native, partially denatured, or fully denatured proteins. Their presence in biological formulations can trigger detrimental immunogenic responses upon administration (2). Moreover, aggregates can…

Characterization of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are a self-renewing population of adherent, multipotent progenitor cells that can differentiate into several lineages. The current definition of MSCs includes adherence to standard tissue culture plastic ware, expression of various surface antigens, and multilineage in vitro differentiation potential (osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic). hMSCs hold great promise as therapeutic agents because of their potential ability to replace damaged tissue and their immunomodulatory properties. Consequently, many clinical trials using hMSCs are currently under way in a…

A Statistical Approach to Expanding Production Capacity

Contract manufacturer DSM Biologics — at its current good manufacturing practices (CGMP) facility in Groningen, The Netherlands — provides services for clinical development and commercial production based on mammalian cell culture technology (Photo 1). During the 2011–2012 year, the facility went through a major expansion project to enlarge its capacity and fulfill a growing customer demand. From a business point of view, the project had a well-defined target for future production capacity as well as investment volume. Photo 1: Photo…

Tunable Half-Life Technology

While a constantly developing market puts increasing pressure on pharmaceutical companies to provide advanced and personalized therapies, the industry is investing heavily in the development of targeted biologics. The aim is often to take new therapeutics through clinical trials and to market as quickly as possible and to develop more novel, tailored drugs. One common challenge for many biologics is their short plasma half-life. That often leads to reduced bioavailability, meaning that an administered drug will clear from a patient’s…