Category: <span>Biologics Production</span>

The heterogenous group of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) are biologics with frequently limited viral safety profiles. As compared to well-established biologics such as monoclonal antibody products, the risk of virus contamination is significantly higher for some ATMPs. The standard approaches and tools used to mitigate the viral risk have limitations, leaving open the chances of missing virus contamination in an ATMP manufacturing process in both upstream and downstream. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology can overcome the residual risk by having the potential to detect any kind of virus contamination based on its inherent capability to detect any kind of nucleic acid in a sample. It perfectly combines the benefits and compensates for the downsides of the existing testing tools. It will replace a bunch of different established testing methods at improved turnaround times and, in the end, reduced overall costs. The combination of these characteristics is making NGS-based virus testing an in-demand and preferred approach to mitigating the virus contamination risk across all kinds of biologics mid- and long-term.

Bioinformatics Biologics Production Cell & Gene Therapy Regulatory Risk Analysis and Management Viral Reference Materials Viral Vectors

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein S2 subunit plays an essential role in the virus-host cell membrane fusion process. Therefore, the subject of this study was to characterize the gamma-immunoglobulin (IgG) response, in a group of COVID-19 convalescent patients, against the S2 subunit with eight linear peptides to generate a monoclonal antibody (mAb) against the immunodominant linear peptide to be used for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. Results of antibody percentages against assessed linear peptides were 100% for A21P73, A21P74, A21P75, A21P76, M20P51, M20P65, M20P83, and 66.7% for M20P85. Plasma samples were also used for purifying IgG to corroborate specificity against the same linear peptides, where results reproduced those applying plasmas directly to ELISA-plates. Within these peptides, A21P75 was chosen as immunodominant (100% of recognition with higher absorbance). The A21P75 linear peptide showed poor immunogenicity in mice (1:4000–8000 after four doses), allowing the generation of a CB.HS2A21P75 hybridoma for mAb production that recognized the A21P75 linear peptide with middle-to-high affinity constant (Kaff) (0.8×108 M-1).

This study concludes that the A21P75 linear peptide is the assessed immunodominant linear peptide for this COVID-19 convalescent patient group. This peptide is located in the HR1 region that plays an important role in SARS-CoV-2 host cell membrane fusion process and is highly conserved between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. Thus, due to CB.S2A21P75 mAb specificity and Kaff, it might be the proper reagent to study inhibition of virus-host cell membrane fusion, and as a diagnostic reagent for coronavirus. Finally, the combination of A21P75 linear peptide with other peptides (e.g., receptor binding domain [RBD]) could be suitable reagents for the development of vaccines and therapeutic antibodies with virus infection-blocking capacity.

Biologics Production

Nowadays, therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are predominantly produced with mammalian cell culture systems such as those using Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Efforts are underway to reduce the costs of this process to meet the increasing global demand in biopharmaceuticals; meanwhile, cheaper and faster expression systems are being investigated as alternatives. The yeast, Pichia pastoris, has become a substantial workhorse for recombinant protein production. However, the N-linked glycosylation in P. pastoris, namely high mannose glycosylation, is significantly different from that in CHO or other mammalian cells, including human cells. In this study, a SuperMan5 strain of P. pastoris was constructed using Pichia GlycoSwitch® technology to successfully produce a more mammalian-like immunoglobulin G (IgG) fragment crystallizable (Fc), which showcases the potential of P. pastoris as a next-generation mAb production platform. Importantly, in this study, a strong methanol-independent promoter, PUPP, was applied, which only requires glycerol feeding for protein production. Most P. pastoris promoters used for protein expression are derived from genes in the methanol metabolism pathway, creating safety concerns due to the flammable nature of methanol, especially at large scale. Here, a fed-batch SuperMan5 P. pastoris fermentation was carried out in which methanol induction, as well as its affiliated safety risks, were eliminated. Overall, this study provides insights into the development of safe and cost-effective industrial mAb production approaches independent of mammalian cell culture.

Biologics Production

From a regulatory standpoint, vaccine stability must be demonstrated, along with the prediction of stability during temperature excursions, before a vaccine can be approved for use in humans.

In this work, Abdala subunit vaccine thermostability was studied under thermal stress conditions (2–8°C [control], 25°C, 37°C, 45°C, and 60°C) for 15 days. Molecular integrity of the vaccine active pharmaceutical ingredient was monitored by SDS-PAGE, immunoblotting, RP-HPLC, mass spectrometry, and circular dichroism spectroscopy analysis. While functionality was monitored by immunogenicity assay, inhibition of binding between receptor-binding domain (RBD) and receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and RBD/ACE2 binding assay.

Results showed that no degradation, loss of disulfide bridges, nor modifications of secondary structure of the RBD molecule were detected at 25°C and 37°C. Moreover, high titers (1:48,853-1:427,849) of anti-RBD-specific mouse antibodies were detected with the ability to inhibit, to different degrees, the binding between RBD/ACE2.

In conclusion, the Abdala subunit vaccine is stable under thermal stress and storage conditions, which has an advantage over non-subunit vaccines previously approved or currently in development against COVID-19. The demonstrated high stability of this vaccine is a key factor in ensuring vaccine effectiveness, extending immunization coverage with fewer production runs, simplifying immunization logistics, and reducing cold chain-associated costs.

Biologics Production Regulatory

Glycosylation is one of the most common post-translational modifications in mammalian-expressed biologics, and is considered to be a critical quality attribute of therapeutic glycoproteins. Due to its biological relevance, physiochemical assessment on the glycosylation profile is always important to the success of a drug development initiative. This article describes the combination of experimental design and machine learning techniques applied to characterize and optimize a conventional, non-derivatized glycoprofiling method on glycans derived from a human immunoglobulin using high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD). Two independent experimental designs, a 16-run definitive screening design (DSD) and a 28-run central composite design (CCD), were incorporated with a machine learning technique known as “self-validating ensemble modeling (SVEM)” and used to build predictive models for four chromatographic responses. We show that the predictive models created using SVEM on the DSD data reliably predicted the behavior of the chosen responses when applied to CCD validation data. This demonstrates that the DSD is an efficient alternative to the larger, traditional CCD in which the combination of experimental design and machine learning can effectively characterize and optimize analytical methods.

Biologics Production

Separation of empty and full AAV8 capsids was achieved during their elution from a weak anion exchanger with an ascending pH gradient at low conductivity. Experimental data suggest elution was mediated by loss of positive charge from the exchanger. The method produced a full capsid peak with fewer empty capsids than elution of a strong anion exchanger with a salt gradient. Elution of the weak exchanger by sodium chloride gradients or by pH gradients in the presence of sodium chloride gave inferior separation performance. Pre-elution of empty capsids with a pH step allowed full capsids to be eluted by salt without compromising separation. Loading at intermediate pH prevented empty capsid binding and enabled step elution of full capsids in a physiological buffer environment.

Biologics Production

SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped, positive-strand RNA virus that contains four structural proteins: spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleocapsid (N-protein). The N-protein participates in virus RNA packaging and particle release, is conserved within SARS-CoV-2 isolates, is highly immunogenic, and is abundantly expressed during SARS-CoV-2 infection. For these reasons, the N-protein could be used as a marker for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in early infection when antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 have not been produced yet. This paper describes the production and characterization of mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAb) and rabbit polyclonal antibodies (pAb) specific for the M20P19 peptide (N-protein linear epitope) for detection purposes. For this study, B-cell hybridomas were generated from mice independently immunized with two different M20P19 peptide-carrier protein conjugates: (1) meningococcal protein P64K; and (2) the keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Rabbits were also independently immunized with these two immunogens. Study results demonstrated that the M20P19 peptide was very immunogenic in mice and rabbits, and both mAb and pAb specifically recognized the non-conjugated M20P19 peptide, conjugated M20P19 peptide, and N-protein with high affinity and specificity, which could allow SARS-CoV-2 detection by different analytical techniques. This study corroborated that specific and high affinity constant mAb and pAb against the M20P19 peptide can be used as biological reagents for specific and rapid SARS-CoV-2 detection, mainly in tissue samples.

Biologics Production

In-line conditioning (IC) is a form of dilution where a process buffer is formulated in-line from concentrated stock solutions of acids, bases, and salts that are mixed with the correct amount of water-for injection (WFI). This new buffer preparation strategy must prove its equivalency to buffers made the traditional way (i.e., weighing salts, stirring in water, titrating with acid or base). In this paper, such a demonstration is presented using two control modes: (1) ratio control with flow feedback; and (2) pH/conductivity feedback. To obtain the necessary parameters for an error propagation analysis, a robustness study has been performed. Our analysis showed that with low incoming variability, or when the uncertainty of the stock solutions is below 2%, the two modes of control give comparable performance. When the uncertainty increases, so does the uncertainty of ratio control with flow feedback, more with respect to conductivity than pH, while the precision of pH/conductivity feedback remains at the same level. The choice of control should therefore take into consideration the critical process parameters, their tolerances, and the input variability in the stock solution concentration. In situations where there are higher variabilities in stock solution concentrations or process temperatures, this study suggests that pH/conductivity feedback might be a better option.

Biologics Production

Tissue-derived products are a class of biological materials harvested directly from animal or human tissue, in contrast to recombinant DNA materials grown in cell culture bioreactors. Tissue-derived products are often used for structural purposes and are typically regulated as medical devices. However, when used to treat human patients, tissue-derived products are subject to many of the same concerns as recombinant DNA biotherapeutics, with viral safety being one of them. To address this, the tissue source material must undergo a risk analysis and testing regimen for the presence of viral contaminants. In addition, viral clearance studies must be performed to evaluate whether the purification process is robust enough to remove and/or inactivate viruses that may be present in the starting material.

The goals of viral clearance studies are the same for tissue-derived products and biotherapeutics, but the design and performance of these studies can be quite different because of the diverse nature of the materials. In this article, we will present an overview of viral clearance studies for tissue-derived products based on our experience in performing a large number of such studies. Rather than discussing the issues related to viral clearance in general, our focus will be on the unique challenges that tissue-derived products pose.

Biologics Production Regulatory Risk Analysis and Management

Due to its antioxidant properties and favorable safety profile, glutathione (GSH) finds use in protein formulations by improving overall protein stability. Once degraded, primarily by oxidation into glutathione disulfide (GSSG), the protecting effect of GSH is lost. A simple, direct method using reversed-phase separation and charged-aerosol detection (RP-CAD) to quantitate GSH is described in this paper. The analytical methodology is also capable of monitoring several by-product degradants of GSH, both oxidative and non-oxidative. For high-concentration protein formulations, the method provides direct analysis of GSH and its degradants in the presence of protein at up to 225 mg/mL simply through a dilution of the sample. Quantitation of many amino acids typically included in pharmaceutical protein formulations is also possible. Use of an online diverting valve in the method prevents interference in the detector from the high protein concentration in formulation. Accuracy and effectiveness of this method is demonstrated through monitoring the stability of GSH in high-concentration protein formulations through confirmation of GSH concentration and mass-balance of its loss over time. Monitoring GSH stability in protein formulations is necessary, as GSH concentration is indicative of protein stability.

Biologics Production