by Cheryl Scott, Senior Technical Editor, BioProcess International
Continuous processing is pretty much a “given” in many industries — even the larger pharmaceutical industry that makes synthetic small-molecule drugs. But the concept has only just begun to make inroads with biomanufacturers, who have until recently worked mainly in batch or fed-batch mode. Single-use technologies largely have enabled them to consider the possibility of process intensification and going continuous. In support of this month’s featured report, I asked contributor Margit Holzer, PhD (scientific director at Ulysse Consult S.a.r.L in Luxembourg) a few general questions on the topic.
One question often asked of perfusion and other continuous culture approaches is “How do you define a batch?” Some experts say it isn’t even necessary to do so. Others say you can describe batches in terms of time. What do you think?
HOLZER: It is important to recall that traceability of the whole batch history of a drug substance or product is absolutely necessary for CGMP production. So there is no choice. A batch also needs to be defined for continuous upstream operations. This becomes especially crucial during investigations or product recalls. In the case of continuous production, a batch may correspond to a defined fraction of production.
The batch size of a continuous upstream process can be defined, for example, by a fixed quantity (e.g., volume, mass, or activity units of product) of harvested product; the amount produced within a fixed time interval (e.g., hours of production, residence time) between harvests; or the number of cell generations or doubling times to be produced, collected, and further treated in downstream processing as one batch. In addition, a minimum titer and/or viability and/or other quality requirements can be specified as acceptance criteria for pooling with the harvested product to assure batch homogeneity. For all those cases, downstream processing capacity must be in line with the harvested quantity of material.
What’s the most challenging part(s) of downstream processing to do continuously? Continue reading “Continuous Processes: Disposables Integrate Upstream and Downstream Processing – Featured Report”
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”.
Continue reading “Who are the competent biomanufacturers?”
by Cheryl Scott, Senior Technical Editor, BioProcess International
At least one innovator company has embraced the concept of biosimilars wholeheartedly, calling it “our next chapter in healthcare” in a 2016 report. That publication cites product characterization, preclinical studies, nomenclature, reimbursement, and regulatory pathways as the primary challenges facing companies in biosimilar development. (Note: See Amgen’s 2017 biosimilars report here.) For our own featured report on biosimilars this month, we asked the contributors about those topics. The answers below come from Bruno Speder (head of clinical regulatory affairs at SGS) and Mario DiPaola (senior scientific director at Charles River Laboratories).
Product Characterization: What is the most challenging aspect of biosimilar characterization? How are companies obtaining originator samples to compare against?
SPEDER: One major challenge in developing biosimilars is to obtain sufficient originator product for characterization testing in both the preclinical and clinical development phases. The supply of originator product is very closely monitored by the manufacturers of those products because they seek to slow down the development of biosimilars. So this can be a difficult task. Originator product samples usually are obtained through specialized distributors.
Preclinical Studies: Can nonclinical/animal studies aid in supporting extrapolation of indications? Continue reading “Biosimilars: Technical and Regulatory Challenges Featured Report”
‘If one or two CAR-T therapies get to market it will provide impetus and momentum behind the industry’ – Dr Akshay Peer, Vice President of Sales and Account Management at TrakCel discusses the revolutionary steps that cell and gene therapies are making through their increased commercialisation.
In a field that is constantly seeing developments, Dr Peer outlines CRISPR and CAR-T therapies as forms of gene editing that can dramatically change the face of gene therapies and their use within modern medicine. He believes that as the commercialisation of these treatments increases, the regularity of their use will as well.
This is due to the surge in ‘positive public opinion’ that will arise from the successful implementation of the therapies. Dr Peer identifies the positivity that already exists around the new therapies, with ‘everyone looking at when these therapies will come to market and how much they will cost’. Although not going into detail about the financial outcome, he outlines his hope that when the public can see the lives of adults and children enhanced by using these therapies, any uncertain opinions will change to ones of optimism and confidence.
Peer acknowledges the lack of information that can exist around the new therapies due to an unfamiliarity in their usage; ‘People can sometimes get ahead of themselves and not understand completely what we’re trying to do here in this industry’. However, he is sure that this will change once there is evidence of patients who are successfully treated.
There is clearly excitement developing around the use of gene therapies, outlined by Dr Peer.
Watch the full interview, filmed at Cell Therapy Manufacturing & Gene Therapy Congress, with Dr Peer above or here.
The implementation, maturation, and benefits of single-use technologies in biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing are well documented and understood. As analytical methods and testing services also rapidly improve, it is clear that management of risk associated with extractables and leachables also must evolve. Standardization is universally accepted as a goal; how to define, implement, and educate the industry is where debate resides.
The container–closure segment has had more experience dealing with leachables and extractables than those implementing single-use process components do — they’ve just been doing it longer. BPI takes a closer look at relevant guidance and regulations and examines how groups such as BPSA, ELSIE, ISO, and USP are helping users make sense of it all.
This eBook reviews the industry’s approach to leachables and extractables to address an underlying question: How close are we to making standardization a reality?
Read an excerpt from the eBook below:
Continue reading “Extractables and Leachables: Standardizing Approaches to Manage the Risk [eBook]”
By Nick Hutchinson
More than ever before, biopharmaceutical companies are able to establish their own in-house biomanufacturing capabilities. The adoption of single-use technology has reduced the need for expensive utilities systems and large manufacturing footprints. The inherent flexibility of this technology is allowing firms to connect steps in the production process with relative ease and without the need for fixed stainless steel pipework. Upfront capital costs have diminished and although operating costs remain, they are incurred only when the success of a drug candidate or licensed product warrants further production. Thus, single-use technologies provide a means to mitigate the risk of wasting large capital expenditures in the event a molecule is unsuccessful in the clinic or on the market.
Good engineering practices are key
Single-use technology is available for nearly every step in a biopharmaceutical manufacturing process below a certain scale of production. Biologics such as monoclonal antibodies and viral vaccines can be produced using processes in which the entire product, media and buffer flow-paths are disposable. However, companies attempting to install or expand new biomanufacturing capacity should be mindful that they should follow good engineering practices to maximize the probability of success. Despite the ease with which firms can install single-use capacity, relative to traditional stainless steel projects, this can nevertheless lead to an insufficient consideration of how firms should integrate single-use equipment with other steps in the process chain. The overlooking of proper integration can lead to incorrect equipment sizing, poor equipment design or an incomplete solution being developed. This can result in process failures, delays and the need to perform costly engineering rework.
Continue reading “Efficient Integration of Single-Use Equipment During Capacity Expansion Projects”
“The future disruption of therapeutic modalities is closer than we think.” – Uwe Gottschalk
In Track 3, Late Stage Process Development & Commercial Launch Preparation, for a standing room only crowd, the featured presentation was given by Uwe Gottschalk, Chief Scientific Officer at Lonza. This track was developed to help attendees learn best practices to apply new technologies used by industry leaders to mitigate risk, improve product quality and ensure regulatory compliance for promising biologics. This exciting presentation included discussions around; T-Cell based cancer treatments, an overview of allo vs. auto, the challenges in scaling of products, the need for automation, disruptive technology and much more.
Continue reading “Breakthrough Technologies in Cell and Viral Therapies”