BWB TV: The Future of Life Sciences in 7 interviews

At Biotech Week Boston this year, we spoke to a whole range of experts leading the way in their fields. Here we’ve gathered all seven of the in-depth interviews exploring cutting- edge research on everything from mAb manufacturing, to the future of food, to big data, to the ‘microbiome organ’.

Designing the foods of the future – David Edwards, Professor of the Practice of Idea Translation, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


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Connecting Women in Bioprocessing with 3M at Biotech Week Boston

The unique Leadership Roundtable will explore diversity, opportunity for mentorship and career development with top leaders in the bioprocess industry.

View the full press release: 3M Biotech Forum Luncheon News Release

3M Separation and Purification Sciences Division (SPSD) with Biotech Week Boston are initiating a new event: the 3M Women in Bioprocess Roundtable Forum and Lunch, an opportunity for women scientists to share their work experiences with executive leadership in the bioprocessing industry.

Participants will network with pioneering leaders in the field, learn about bioprocess career trajectories, and create personal connections with women scientists and executives in a variety of companies.

The event will be held on September 27th where panelists will answer moderated questions from audience members registered for the event on the topic of pivotal career experiences and other key learnings for women in the industry.

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The future of biomanufacturing with Christian Eckermann, Boehringer Ingelheim

At BioProcess International European Summit, we sat down with Christian Eckermann, Head of Biopharma Austria and Member of the Biopharma Executive Committee at Boehringer Ingelheim, for an exclusive interview. We discussed next generation bioprocessing and facility implementation and the challenges that still need to be overcome to achieve it.

Watch the full interview above or here.

What are the biggest challenges that need to be overcome in bioprocessing?

CE: ‘One of the biggest challenges is…to be more effective in operation, but also in development; to have more effective high performance processes. Especially with the higher titres there will be a major press on downstream processing and there’s some innovation needed to improve the downstream part of it.

There are also some challenges with the new opportunities having new molecules, more designer molecules, moving away from the typical antibodies to biospecifics and other design formats. There is the development part to get to the market quickly, and the operations part with all the data there is a big opportunity and also a challenge to fully leverage that opportunity.’

Where do you see bioprocessing and facilities in 5 years? What are the biggest changes you expect to see?

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16 Million People (and counting) Saved From Paralysis

Poliovirus and one of the Science Heroes that made this Headline Possible: Eckard Wimmer, Ph.D.

Polio has been around for centuries – but it’s almost gone – thanks to the efforts of many scientists, such as Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, as well as Eckard Wimmer, Ph.D., a National Academy of Sciences Scholar. Polio was first described clinically back in 1789 but it wasn’t until nearly a century later in 1894 that the first polio epidemic occurred. Polio peaked in 1952 when 3,145 people died and thousands more were paralyzed[1]. Around this time, the first vaccines were introduced which had a profound impact reducing the incidence of this disease and inspired one scientist in particular who went on to achieve breakthroughs in poliovirus after fleeing Berlin at the height of WWII, then later fleeing East Germany to continue his studies.

Dr. Wimmer, then a chemist, became fascinated by poliovirus as the first example of a self-replicating chemical and pathogenic entity, “a chemical with a life cycle”, and dug in to research its biology[2][3]. He and his lab were the first to sequence a eukaryotic RNA virus. They also elucidated its unique structure[4] (the first RNA virus to be linked to a protein later discovered to be involved in RNA replication) as well as to decipher the genetic organization of the poliovirus genome. These groundbreaking efforts enabled Dr. Wimmer to chemically synthesize the poliovirus genome – essentially becoming the first to successfully synthesize a living organism outside a cell[5]. In short, the world’s first test-tube virus was “born”, and, along with it, the dawning of the age of synthetic biology.

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Who are the competent biomanufacturers?

by Nick Hutchinson

Once upon a time, this seemed like a very easy question to answer. Engineering companies designed facilities with stainless steel equipment to the user requirement specifications of their biomanufacturing customers. These biotech companies then operated the facilities, producing quantities of product to supply the market. They understood these products, having developed them in-house, and had designed, characterized and scaled-up the required bioprocess. They put in place the quality systems necessary to ensure the safety of their patients. In short, these biopharma companies were vertically integrated with competencies in developing, producing and marketing their products in a tightly regulated market. To better serve their customers they invested in manufacturing sciences leading to process innovations that lowered costs, increased throughput and improved product quality.

Leading biopharmaceutical firms still see biomanufacturing as a core competence. Amgen, to give one example, proudly states in its 2016 Annual Report that the company’s “long record of delivering reliable supplies of high-quality medicines with improving efficiency is a source of differentiated competitive advantage”.

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The ‘transformative power’ of gene editing, with David Sourdive, Cellectis

‘Gene editing has a very transformative power in adaptive T cell therapy. In gene editing, we can make T cells do much more than they would normally do without being engineered.’ In this far-ranging interview, David Sourdive, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Cellectis, outlines the exciting updates from Cellectis’ current CAR-T therapy projects, from manufacturing, to clinical trials. He details his hope for the future and highlights the challenges that working with T cells can bring.

The possibilities of using gene editing to leverage the power of T cells into ‘better killers’ to ‘overcome the defence mechanisms of tumour cells’ are clear for Sourdive. Whilst acknowledging the current successful use of autologous treatments, he believes the industry is moving towards the possibility of ‘real pharmaceutical off the shelf T cell products’. There is an undeniable enthusiasm from Sourdive about gene editing to ‘maximise the power of T cells’, which can develop treatments that will meet the standard of care that chemotherapies and antibody therapies have.

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The importance of creative solutions in cell therapies

Pim Hermans, Director of Ligand Discovery at Thermo Fisher Scientifics, emphasises the importance of the symbiotic relationship Thermo Fisher has with their customers. For Hermans, this was key for their breakthrough product – ‘affinity products…for purification of biotherapeutics’ – which has been ‘really adopted by the industry’. It is widely used in the manufacturing of medicines, ‘especially in the gene and cell therapy field’. His example is the current use of AAV, which is now being used in ‘manufacturing at a large scale’.

By seeing customers as partners, Hermans’ philosophy is that ‘together we can make our products to suit the needs of their molecules’. He is confident in their ability to produce intuitive products and ‘do the best we can to provide the solutions’. He acknowledges ‘it can be challenging, but we are there to face those challenges together to try to solve problems to make good products’. This has been paramount to the evolution of cell and gene therapies.

Speaking of the new projects Thermo Fisher are currently working on, Hermans talks of the ‘next stage’ that will result from gene therapy evolution. He highlights the lentivirus as a new challenge, due to its nature as a more demanding viral vector, but a challenge he is eager to embrace.

Watch the full interview, filmed at Cell Therapy Manufacturing & Gene Therapy Congress, with Pim Hermans above or here.