Upstream Validation

Development of a Novel Host-Cell Protein Assay: Supporting the Physcomitrella patens Expression System

Host-cell proteins (HCPs) constitute an inevitable impurity of biopharmaceutical products originating from recombinant-cell culture. HCPs are a heterogeneous mix of different proteins, their specific characteristics depending on the kind of organism used as an expression platform, on the “destination” of the expressed recombinant product (extra- or intracellular), and on the corresponding purification approach (1–3). Contamination of a final drug substance with residual HCPs could lead to immunogenic reactions in some patients who receive the drug product (DP). So a reliable…

Experiences with a Benchtop-Scale Glass Bioreactor: Engineering Data and Cultivation Results

Animal cell lines (the dominant expression systems in biopharmaceutical production processes) are mostly cultivated in stirred bioreactors (1). Although such bioreactors are widely accepted and applicable over a wide range of scales, engineering data for these systems are still lacking. Nevertheless, studies have shown that the correct choice of key parameters (e.g., power input, tip speed, mixing time, and oxygen mass transfer) can influence the growth of animal cell cultures (2). Therefore, detailed characterization is essential. It enables reliable scaling…

Foundation Elements for Cell Therapy Smart Scaling

Cell therapy is the injection of cellular material into patients. The injected cell-therapy product (CTP) usually consists of intact living cells. In recent years, cell therapies have evolved and matured, moving from academia to industry. That maturation is reflected in the number of open clinical trials that include the term cell therapy in their descriptions: To date, there are more than 8,700 open trials listed on the US National Institutes of Health’s online database (clinicaltrials.gov), most of which are in…

Pressure Decay Method for Postinstallation Single-Use Bioreactor Bag Testing

Single-use technology is well accepted today, and manufacturers’ quality assurance programs ensure leak-free single-use bags upon delivery. But what about risks involved with installation and other handling errors? Operator training and implementation of suitable standard operating procedures (SOPs) are mandatory, but should they be the only ways to mitigate the risk of failures? In addition, more companies are advocating the use of ballroom concepts (1) for the manufacture of biopharmaceutical drug substances and drug products. However, how do you prove…

Ready-to-Use Cryopreserved Primary Cells

Abiological measurement of drug activity is perhaps the most critical step in the series of tests required for product release both for clinical trials and the market. This evaluation plays an important role in the stability assessment of drug candidates. According to the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) Q6B document, measurements of biological activity can be performed in defined animal models that demonstrate a measurable physiological change in response to…

How to Hit a Moving Target

Although multiple factors can compromise the drug-like properties of biological molecules, we are still at a very early stage in learning how to assess them. This is despite — or perhaps more correctly, because of — the pharmaceutical industry’s accelerating drive to develop biological molecules as therapeutic agents. And I say “we” because this applies not only to the biopharmaceutical industry itself and the analytical instrument companies that serve it, but also those charged with regulating it. We are all…

Process Improvements Increase Production Capacity of a Legacy Product

Implementation of postlicensure process improvements in the biopharmaceutical industry can benefit patients and drug manufacturers alike. Here we demonstrate through a case study how a change to the cell culture medium and process can be taken from proof of concept through scale-up to demonstration of feasibility. We further illustrate the scope and complexity of implementing a change in commercial manufacturing to realize significant benefits such as increased production capacity over an existing legacy process. The Importance of Postapproval Improvements Drug…

New Paradigms for Process Validation

    Both the United States and the European Union have recently evolved guidance on how to execute process validation (1, 2) with the prospect of a more appropriate life-cycle approach. It goes beyond the traditional three to five lots run at the center point of proposed ranges for operating parameters. New approaches leverage product design and process development information. They facilitate adapting the quality by design (QbD) paradigm to allow for a science- and risk-based selection of critical process…

Implementation of Quality By Design in Vaccine Development

At the IBC Third Annual International Forum on Vaccine Production, I presented an outline of “Best Practices for Quality by Design (QbD) in Biological Products and How to Implement in Vaccines.” It covered process development and QbD principles, best practices used in biologics, how QbD fits in with process validation, how it applies to vaccines, and some thoughts on the potential for seasonal vaccines. Shifts in Process Development Classic process development (as practiced in the early days) generally involved rudimentary…

A Host Cell Protein Assay for Biologics Expressed in Plants

    Host cell proteins (HCPs) can be present in significant amounts in biological products through copurification with a recombinant protein-drug substance. Purified active ingredients developed for human use must be free of all contaminants — including residual HCPs — to minimize the incidence of immunogenicity against a drug product or its trace contaminants (1).   HCP assays allow for monitoring host-related impurities during product development and process development. Most are in the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) format for detecting…