QA/QC

A Decade of Characterization

    Over the past 10 years, the biopharmaceutical industry has placed increasing pressure on analytical laboratories, whose work is more important to the success of biotherapeutic products than ever before. Nearly concomitant with the appearance of BPI on the scene, the US Food and Drug Administration put forth its final report on the 21st century good manufacturing practice initiative, which in changing how regulators would review product applications, changed how companies must approach them (1). The guiding principles —…

Balancing the Statistical Tightrope

During one development meeting early in my industrial career, a process development group member asked me whether the value my group had reported in one result was okay to use. I confidently replied “Yes, it’s fine. It’s about 40, somewhere between 38 and 42. The other person raised his eyebrows. “About 40?” In response, I somewhat awkwardly mumbled “Yes, probably…about that” — an answer not met with full understanding, but rather concern. My answer hadn’t been incorrect. The result was…

An Industry Perspective on Quality By Design

The US FDA’s quality by design (QbD) initiative and associated ICH Q8, Q9, and Q10 guidance documents are increasingly embraced by the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry for ensuring consistent product quality and lower costs of development and manufacturing. One critical problem the industry faces involves understanding how to implement QbD and determine the benefit of such projects — which require the work of many groups across quality, manufacturing sciences, and engineering departments. Here we present the results from a survey of…

“Hard Cell”: Potency Testing for Cellular Therapy Products

Potency testing is defined in 21 CFR Part 600.3(s) as “the specific ability or capacity of the product, as indicated by appropriate laboratory tests or by adequately controlled clinical data obtained through the administration of the product in the manner intended, to effect a given result” (1). Potency measurement is especially important for complex products such as cellular therapies (CTs). It is considered an essential aspect of the quality-control system for a CT drug substance and drug product. It is…

Host Cellular Protein Quantification

Host-cell proteins (HCPs) are bioprocess-related impurities that may be present in intermediate or final biopharmaceutical products such as recombinant monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Although the potential clinical and genetic effects of HCPs are largely unknown, studies have shown that HCPs may cause immune responses and adverse reactions in patients when present at sufficient high levels (1,2,3). Consequently, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Commission regulations require that the level of HCP in a bioproduct be quantitatively measured during manufacturing…

How QbD and the FDA Process Validation Guidance Affect Product Development and Operations, Part 2

    Earlier this year, the FDA issued its long-awaited process validation guidance document, which had been several years in development. It is well written and effectively articulates what many progressive companies have been thinking and doing for years. But many people in the industry are asking questions.   Part 1 of this article described the history of process validation before the FDA’s quality by design (QbD) initiative and discussed QbD in general. It also described the new process validation…

Analysis and Immunogenic Potential of Aggregates and Particles

    The conclusion of this CMC Forum continued to focus on the latest developments in detection and characterization of protein aggregates (1). Afternoon sessions detailed the most recent experiments probing the role of protein aggregates in immunogenicity, with discussions on the best models to use and initial results. Topics included potential thresholds for immunogenicity, linking laboratory and clinical data, and predicting and testing potential immunogenicity of products throughout a development lifecycle.     Afternoon Sessions   Amy Rosenberg (Division…

Imaged Capillary Isoelectric Focusing for Charge-Variant Analysis of Biopharmaceuticals

    Analyzing charge variants of therapeutic proteins is critical for characterizing and monitoring quality attributes of antibodies. Charge variants include deamidation, formation of N-terminal pyroglutamate, aggregation, isomerization, sialylated glycans, antibody fragmentation, and glycation at the lysine residues. In some cases, such changes affect binding, biological activity, patient safety, and shelf life. The biopharmaceutical industry relies on tools such as ion-exchange chromatography (IEC), isoelectric-focusing gel electrophoresis (IEF), and capillary equivalents such as capillary isoelectric focusing (CIEF) and imaged CIEF (iCIEF)…

Analysis and Immunogenic Potential of Aggregates and Particles

    The number of biotherapeutics on the market has rapidly increased during the past several years. Such proteins commonly exhibit a concentration-dependent propensity for self-association, which often leads to the formation of aggregates that range in size from nanometers (oligomers) to microns (subvisible and visible particles). Publications two years ago focused attention on the potential immunogenicity of active-ingredient aggregates ((1,2,3,4). The authors discussed lack of specificity of compendial measurements and inability of other current methods to address potential effects…

Limited Analytical Technologies Are Inhibiting Industry Growth

    Progress in the development of bioprocessing-related assays and analytical instrumentation has not kept up with industry demands. The industry wants analytical technologies (especially for single use) to help improve productivity, optimize and monitor processes, provide real-time product quality control, and characterize biosimilars. These trends are reflected in our recent survey data. Over 30% of biopharmaceutical manufacturers and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) have expressed demands for improved assays and analytical equipment (1). BioPlan Associates’ eighth annual survey of biopharmaceutical…