March 2013

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…

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…

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…

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…

PEGS The Essential Protein Engineering Summit 29 April – 3 May 2013 — Seaport World Trade Center (Boston, MA)

This spring, Cambridge Healthtech Institute (CHI) will host its ninth annual PEGS: The Essential Protein Engineering Summit at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA. Record attendance is expected in 2013. Its growth and success is attributable to the quality of scientific programming, expanded exhibit hall, and ample networking opportunities. In addition to the new venue on Boston’s waterfront, the 2013 PEGS event now offers six programming streams and 16 conferences in protein and antibody engineering, oncology, expression, analytical,…

Deal-Making in the Biosimilars Market

Driven by significant opportunity and a perceived lower risk strategy for taking a slice of the booming biologics market, companies have been investing heavily in biosimilars to capitalize on a market that’s forecast to be worth US$3.5 billion by 2015. To exploit this opportunity, companies have embarked on a hearty meal of deal-making. Since the biosimilar market’s formal inception in Europe in 2005, deal flow has been solid. Generics companies made early forays, seeking to leverage relationships with payers and…

Global Evolution of Biomanufacturing

Biomanufacturing of human therapeutics is beginning a global transformation. New technologies, improved processes, the emergence of biosimilars, and growing worldwide demand for vaccines and biologic drugs to serve local populations are driving this transformation. Over the next few years, diverse new markets will open, creating opportunities for a range of companies seeking to enter the field while putting pressure on established biomanufacturers to reassess their operating models. Many traditional barriers-to-entry in biomanufacturing are diminishing. Yet other challenges — including access…