Laboratory Equipment

“Transformation By Infection”

Every bioprocess begins with an expression system, and every expression system begins with DNA transfection. Derived from transformation and infection, the word paradoxically has come to be applied mainly to nonviral methods of genetically engineering cells; viral-vector–mediated DNA transfer is often called transduction. There are chemical, particulate, physical/mechanical, and viral means of getting new genetic material into a cell, and that DNA may take a number of different forms. Even the cloning method (pictured right) using a microscopic needle to…

Single-Use Pumps Take Center Stage

The multibillion-dollar global biopharmaceutical industry is placing increased emphasis on development and manufacture of advanced biologics. Such products offer exciting potential for the development of drugs that could provide as-yet-unknown treatments for a wide array of diseases. One important goal is to commercialize biologic products as early as possible within the typical 20-year patent window. Patent submission must occur during drug development. Much work follows a patent filing, including further product development, toxicity checks, and clinical trials. Hopefully, US Food…

Implementing Disposable Sampling Devices for Fully Autoclaved Equipment

Sampling is used extensively to monitor both behavior and quality throughout biopharmaceutical processesing (1, 2). Methods must deliver representative samples and — more important — not compromise the integrity of a given unit operation or the process of which it is part. When microorganisms, animal cells, viruses, or nonfilterable materials are involved, sampling methods must not introduce contamination (see the “Regulatory Requirements” box). For successful sampling, three methods have been used routinely over the years: steam-in-place (SIP) valves; aseptic tube…

Amplifying the Possibilities

Polymerases are natural enzymes that are vital to nucleic acid synthesis: DNA polymerase for replication of deoxyribonucleic acid and RNA polymerase for replication of ribonucleic acid. Thus all living things make and use polymerases of their own. But in 1969, the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas D. Brock and Hudson Freeze identified a new species of extremophilic bacterium thriving at 160 °F (70 °C) in a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. In time, heat-tolerant polymerase isolated from Thermus aquaticus (Taq)…

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…

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…

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…

Antibodies, Bioassays, and Cells

It’s no surprise that immunochemistry forms a broad and solid basis of biopharmaceutical analytical laboratory work. Immunochemicals include antibiotics and antigens, nucleic acids and nucleotides, enzymes, lipids, antioxidants, probes and dyes, and proteins and peptides. Available from companies such as Advanced Immunochemical, Immundiagnostik, Lampire Biological Laboratories, and Rockland Antibodies and Assays, their many uses include antibody isotyping and fragmentation. Adjuvants, buffers, assay kits, target biomolecules, and phage-display systems support those applications. Because background and off-target effects complicate the study of…

Protein Scaffolds

The recent success of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) as therapeutic agents to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic inflammatory and autoimmune disorders (Table 1) has catapulted these once difficult-to-develop molecules to the forefront of modern molecular medicine (1, 2). The size of the global MAb market in 2008 was valued at almost US$28 billion. Industry analysts predict that the size of the MAb market will grow to almost $68 billion by 2015, with the largest growth occurring in…