Upstream Development

Viral Vector Particle Integrity and Purity Analyses in Early Process Development

Gene therapy is the transfer of genetic material to a patient’s cells to achieve a therapeutic effect. Therapeutic DNA typically is delivered using a viral vector system, and adenoviruses have been used for this purpose for over 20 years (1–3). Within the past 10 years or so, lentiviruses have shown promise in clinical trials (1–3), and adenoassociated viruses (AAVs) have been used in the first approved gene therapies in the Western world (4). The number of gene therapy applications based…

Development Approaches to Adenoassociated Virus Production

After many years of development, gene therapy is beginning to deliver on its promises in the clinic, in some cases with spectacular outputs. Those clinical successes also have led to an influx of funding and engagement from large pharmaceutical companies, thereby bringing the required financial support and expertise for late-stage clinical developments and product commercialization. Although many initial studies were confined to small patient groups and focused on a range of rare monogenetic diseases, new approaches to gene editing have…

Controlling Glycosylation in Fusion Protein Manufacturing to Generate Potent Biobetters

The pipelines of pharmaceutical companies are full of biological drugs. Many of them are innovative therapeutic proteins, but a growing number represent biosimilars and biobetters (Figure 1) (1). Biobetters typically are defined as being “based on innovative biologics but with improved properties” (2). Their development benefits from known therapeutic approaches and mechanisms of action resulting in low risk, fast paths to the clinic and thus lower costs. Superiority is achieved through extended half-life (t1/2), improved efficacy, and reduced immunogenicity or…

Process Development of Microbial Plasmid DNA: Fast-Tracking with Modular Single-Use Minibioreactors

There has been a rapid rise in the number of positive clinical outputs from clinical studies based on gene and cell therapies. This is in addition to the licensing of products such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Strimvelis ex-vivo stem-cell therapy for treatment of severe combined immunodeficiency caused by adenosine deaminase deficiency (ADA-SCID) in 2016 (1) — has led to an increase in demand for therapeutic vector manufacturing capabilities. Viral vectors are being used for an increasing range of conditions, including monogenetic conditions.…

Opportunities and Challenges in Biosimilar Development

A biosimilar biotherapeutic product is similar (but not identical) in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy to an already licensed reference product. Unlike generic small molecules, it is difficult to standardize such inherently complex products based on complicated manufacturing processes. Table 1 describes the main differences between biosimilar and generic drug molecules. The global biosimilar market is growing rapidly as patents on blockbuster biologic drugs expire (Table 2) and other healthcare sectors focus on reduction of costs. Biologics are among…

Implementing Quality By Design in Analytical Development: A Case Study on the Development of an Anion-Exchange HPLC Method

The concept of quality by design (QbD) initially was outlined in ICH Q8 guidance for drug-product development and later in Q11 for drug-substance development (1, 2). Since then, the QbD concept was further expanded to the development of analytical methods. FDA issued a 2015 guidance on analytical procedures and method validation for drugs and biologics (3). Although the agency did not explicitly state the requirement for implementation of QbD in analytical method development, the concept is embedded in its section…

Comparing Culture Methods in Monoclonal Antibody Production: Batch, Fed-Batch, and Perfusion

Recombinant protein manufacturing with Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells represents over 70% of the entire biopharmaceutical industry (1). In fact, human monoclonal antibodies (hMAbs) produced by CHO cells have played a major role in both the diagnostic and therapeutic markets for decades. One of the first human–mouse chimeric MAbs to obtain FDA approval was Roche’s rituximab treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and rheumatoid arthritis. Since that approval in 1997, scores of chimeric, humanized, and human MAbs have gained…

Conditional/Inducible Gene-Expression Mouse Models Using Advanced Gene Editing

Transgenic mouse models have been an essential part of biomedical research for many decades. They have provided valuable insights in developmental biology, gene regulation, and our understanding of the genetic basis of human disease. And they play a critical role in drug discovery and development. Traditional methods to generate these mouse models entailed a milieu of disadvantages: e.g., low efficiency, high incidence of undesirable recombination outcomes, randomly and multiply inserted genes of interest, ectopic expression, gene silencing, and insertional mutations…

Accelerated Development Through Strategic Analytical Partnerships

The analytical field for biologics has evolved greatly over the past 30 years, and the underlying growth has shifted from biopharmaceutical companies to contract research organizations (CROs). The global biopharmaceutical market is growing annually at >15%, making it the largest and consistently fastest growing segment of the healthcare industry with annual sales in excess of US$200 billion. Contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) are expanding capacity by building new cost-efficient facilities, reflecting market demand. Many product sponsors are outsourcing, some even increasing…

Outsourcing Biosimilar Development

As the debate continues over the high cost of pharmaceutical treatment options, the development of biosimilars continues to play a dominant role in that discussion and will be an important part of the solution. Biosimilar companies are working at a feverish pace to develop the next generation of follow-on products. Outsourcing to a growing group of contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) is a key strategy for savvy developers to accelerate their products’ launch. Finding the right CDMO isn’t an…