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Why the “Central Dogma” Isn’t

For decades, professional biology education programs, universities, community colleges, and some high schools have inoculated students with the phrase central dogma to refer to the basic paradigm that “DNA encodes RNA, which encodes for protein” (1). Although that is in large part true, we do need to break with tradition, let science take its course, and call it like it is. Background In 1970, Francis Crick’s seminal paper in Nature (“Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”) was published. Eventually its premise…

Due Diligence of Early Stage Technologies: Achieving Rapid Product Development with Low R&D Costs

Increased understanding of human diseases at molecular and cellular levels is leading to development of novel life-science technologies. Such advancements typically pertain to discovery and manufacturing of novel human therapeutics, new modes of drug delivery, and novel diagnostic technologies. The majority of those technologies are developed by early stage biopharmaceutical companies that have a greater appetite for risk than do larger companies. Early stage biopharmaceutical companies, however, have limited capital raised through personal sources, angel investors, venture capital, or government…

Risk Management in Financing of Capital Expansions: How One CMO Grows with Its Customers

BioVectra Inc. is an eastern Canadian contract manufacturing organization (CMO) with expertise in both synthetic chemistry and biomanufacturing techniques. In recent years, it has obtained specialized knowledge in production of highly potent small molecules from fermentation and functionalized methoxypoly(ethylene glycol) products (mPEGs). The focus of BioVectra’s contract manufacturing business is the transfer and scale-up of processes for manufacturing its clients’ products under current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) as appropriate for the clinical stage of each product. In the current environment,…

Activatable Immunoconjugates for Target Cancer-Cell–Specific Diagnosis and Therapy

In cancer treatment, early diagnosis and targeted therapies are assumed to yield the highest cure rates. However, most current methods are limited by their low sensitivity to early disease and a lack of specificity for targeted cell killing. Newly developed, activatable immunoconjugates assist in the accurate detection of cancer through in vivo imaging with high target-to-background contrast (1,2). They also provide for the possibility of highly specific, light-mediated treatment with minimal effects on healthy cells surrounding tumors (3). In fact,…

Cell Therapy Manufacturing

Fueled by a recent resurgence in public financing and compelling clinical data for indications as diverse as acute macular degeneration and pancreatic cancer, a growing number of cell therapies are driving toward pivotal clinical studies and commercialization. Although regulatory precedents have been set for various autologous and allogeneic products in the United States, Asia, and the European Union, regulatory guidance continues to evolve for a widening array of cell products. Adult stem cells (e.g., mesenchymal stem cells), embryonic stem cells,…

Accelerating Purification Process Development of an Early Phase MAb with High-Throughput Automation

    Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) are the fastest growing segment in the biopharmaceutical industry because they are potentially efficacious in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders (1,2). With steadily increasing demand for efficient and affordable therapies, speed to clinic/market is important, and biopharmaceutical companies push multiple drugs into development each year to ensure business sustainability (3,4,5,6). Downstream purification process development for therapeutic MAbs is a critical step on their path to reach clinical trials and beyond…

Single-Use, Continuous Processing of Primary Stem Cells

Many potentially therapeutic products involve the culture of stem cells. Their commercial success depends on the development of scalable good manufacturing practice (GMP) technologies that can both robustly and cost-effectively produce very large numbers of cells. Through many improvements and innovations in bioprocessing operations over the years, fed-batch suspension culture has remained the most common mode for large-scale biopharmaceutical manufacturing. However, some recent events suggest that may be changing (1,2). For the culture and expansion of stem cells, large-format adherent…

Advocating for Advanced Therapies

My sense is that we’ve come a long way and that 2013 was actually a very good year — perhaps maybe even the best year ever for regenerative medicines and advanced therapies. Clearly the financial markets have allowed us to do more in terms of raising capital to fund projects in this space, and we are seeing a growing interest in the sector in the investor community. We’ve seen a number of major financing events over the course of the…

Cell Therapy Will Transform the Future of Medicine

The third annual IBC Cell Therapy Bioprocessing conference was held in Bethesda, MD, on 21–22 October 2013. It brought pioneers in the development of cell-based therapies together with companies that have enabling technologies, such as bioreactors, cell culture media, and advanced monitoring software. After the conference, I discussed the highlights and key themes coming out of the event with Dr. Phil Vanek, general manager of cell bioprocessing at GE Healthcare Life Sciences in Westborough, MA. Also an instructor for advanced…

Thinking Strategically

At the recent Phacilitate Gene and Cell Therapy Conference (27–29 January 2014 in Washington, DC), BPI’s editor in chief Anne Montgomery and publisher Brian Caine spoke with Richard Grant, executive vice president, life sciences, at Invetech (www.invetech.com.au); and Brian Hanrahan, program manager at Invetech. They and their colleagues were instrumental in advising us how to bring ongoing discussions of regenerative medicines into BPI four years ago for the first Cell Therapy Supplement issue. We asked them to comment generally on…