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2022

Affinity-based chromatographic isolation of mRNA is robust and simple, lending itself as a useful industrial platform. mRNA constructs typically contain a 3’ polyA tail to increase stability in vivo, thereby affording the possibility of affinity purification using oligo-deoxythymidinic acid (Oligo dT) probes covalently coupled to a solid support. Poly-adenylated mRNA forms a stable hybrid with Oligo dT under high-salt conditions which is destabilized when the salt is removed, allowing mRNA to be released. Typical dynamic binding capacity (DBC) of CIMmultus Oligo dT for mRNA is 2-4 mg/mL; ever higher IVT productivity will require higher binding capacities. Screening experiments to elucidate factors affecting CIMmultus Oligo dT binding capacity for mRNA were performed in CIM® 96-well Oligo dT format. A simplified model identified NaCl, guanidine hydrochloride (Gu-HCl) and MgCl2 concentration as the key factors contributing to DBC. Buffer chemistry, buffer pH, salt type and mRNA concentration had little or no effect on DBC.

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Sample displacement chromatography (SDC) is a chromatographic technique that utilizes differences in relative binding affinities of components in a sample mixture under chromatographic conditions. Here, we use SDC approach with CIM® C4 HLD monoliths under hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC) conditions to separate plasmid DNA (pDNA) isoforms under overloading conditions, where supercoiled (SC) isoform acts as a displacer of open circular (OC) or linear isoform. High purity of SC isoform is beneficial for use of plasmids as vaccines, transfecting agents for production of gene therapy viral vectors, or as starting material for linearization prior to IVT reaction in production of mRNA vaccines.

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The cost of mRNA production is driven by IVT reagents, particularly the capping reagent. Optimization of mRNA yield is therefore crucial for lowering the cost of mRNA production. In order to monitor IVT reaction over time, we implemented a rapid at-line HPLC monitoring of consumption of NTPs with concomitant production of mRNA, with a sub-3 min read-out. Use of CIMac PrimaS analytical column allowed us to determine and adjust key IVT components that influence the kinetics of mRNA production and are critical for optimization of continuous addition of reagents, i.e. fed-batch IVT.

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CIM® PrimaS column family combines multimodal anion exchange/hydrogen bonding properties, binding molecules with predominantly negative charge. It is used as capture method for purification of mRNA from IVT (in-vitro transcription) reaction mixture with high binding capacity. High salt wash is used to elute the plasmid and other IVT components from the column without affecting binding of ssRNA.

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Microvolume spectrophotometers are commonly used as quick and easy method to measure concentration and purity of nucleic acids. DSP process for purification of mRNA includes unit operations with salt concentrations up to 2.75 M (HIC) or up to 1.25 M (Oligo dT) during load and low salt concentrations during elution.

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mRNA has been at the forefront of both scientific and general public interests from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for the mRNA product has been incredible for the last couple of years. However, there are still limited options available for a rapid mRNA quantification and characterization. In this work, mRNA analytics using a CIMac Oligo dT column is presented. mRNA is a specialized group of RNAs that carries the blueprints for building proteins from the cell’s DNA in the nucleus to the ribosomes in the cytoplasm. One of the features of mRNA molecules is a polyadenylated (poly(A)) tail on the 3’ end, that can be up to 250 nucleotides long. This feature enables mRNA to bind to the Oligo dT column. HPLC Oligo dT analytics provide a solution for fast and reproducible quantification of mRNA throughout all the process steps of mRNA production and purification. The presented method was validated using mFix4, an uncapped mRNA analog produced in-house, 3969 nt long molecule with a poly(A )tail length of 95 nucleotides.

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Messenger RNA (mRNA) is becoming a major contributor in the fields of gene therapy and vaccines, including those developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Convective Interaction Media® (CIM®) Styrene divinylbenzene (SDVB) monolithic columns are promising for high resolution purification and separation of mRNA, enabling large-scale production of this molecule. This study demonstrates the ability to prepare homogeneous SDVB monoliths with desired chromatographic properties and economical analytics over the whole size range.

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Agarose gel electrophoresis (AGE) analysis is an important method for monitoring of plasmid DNA (pDNA) quality, with ability to separate pDNA isoforms (sc, oc, lin, multimer). Plasmid linearization can be monitored for purposes of producing starting material for mRNA production. Electrophoretic conditions and, more importantly, matrix used for sample dilution before gel loading can affect analytical results. We have observed that purified linear pDNA shows an additional band in AGE analysis of the sample in water medium, which can lead to misinterpretation of results. 

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2021

The recently demonstrated efficacy of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines has shown promise of this therapeutic format, but also highlighted the need for higher efficiency of mRNA production to meet enormous needs for global vaccine supply.

Typical mRNA production process involves three key steps: 1) plasmid DNA (pDNA) production in supercoiled (sc) isoform, linearization and purification, 2) in-vitro transcription (IVT) reaction and 3) mRNA purification.

Here we present a chromatographic toolbox and mRNA IVT synthesis for integrated mRNA production from pDNA to mRNA purification, including in-process analytics. This high yield process reduces the overall number of purification steps required, improves recoveries, results in extra low protein impurity and allows for very efficient dsRNA removal.

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The IVT reaction is one of the most expensive steps in mRNA production process and its optimization to reach high mRNA yield is of key importance Standard mRNA quantification techniques like absorbance and fluorescence based assays are time consuming and cannot be performed at line as the IVT reaction progresses In addition, other reaction components like nucleotides and pDNA interfere in the analytical results and reduce the method’s accuracy A new approach shown here uses CIMac PrimaS™ analytical HPLC column to separate and quantify several key IVT components with a very short run time, enabling fast “at line” tracking

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Optimizing processing steps in sc pDNA isolation is critical for obtaining good process yields as well as high product purity. HPLC with convective chromatography media (e.g. monolith) offers a rapid analytical method to characterize complex biomolecular mixtures and gives immediate feedback during process development. E coli lysis represents such a challenging step, where multiple critical quality attributes need to be identified and critical processing parameters optimized. This approach leads to better yields and product purity, allowing for simplified downstream steps. A new PATfix analytical HPLC platform presented here uses CIMac pDNA column, to separate and characterize plasmid from impurities, allowing for easy optimization of key parameters such as RNA removal.

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In mRNA production process, downstream purification of in vitro transcription (IVT) reaction often relies on precipitation methods which cannot provide resolution, recovery, or reproducibility to consistently produce a safe and effective product with good process economics. mRNA is a large biomolecule (mass of 1000 nt is ~ 150 kDa and >100 nm in diameter) for which porous particle chromatography lacks the ability to support high capacity and throughput to achieve good process economics. Convective flow chromatography media (e.g. monoliths) is an optimal platform for purification. A fully scalable chromatographic purification process is presented for a posttranscriptionally capped in vitro transcribedmRNA.

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2020

HPLC with convective chromatography media (e.g.monolith) offers a rapid analytical method to characterise complex mixtures. Transcription reaction used for production of mRNA represents such a mixture, with components varying in size, chemical and physical properties. A new analytical HPLC approach (PATfix) presented here uses CIMacPrimaS to separate IVT components such as triphosphate-nucleotides (NTPs), enzymes, DNA template and RNA in a very short gradient.

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Linearised pDNA is currently the starting point of In-Vitro-Transcription processes to synthesize mRNA. Large scale purification protocols for manufacturing of pDNA used for Gene Therapy applications typically include two chromatography steps. The first step captures both linear, open circular and supercoiled pDNA species. The polishing step enriches supercoiled pDNA, while discarding other isoforms. We describe a single-step-capture strategy to maximize the recovery of pDNA for further linearization.

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The increasing demand for messenger RNA (mRNA) as a therapeutic product requires larger production scales and more efficient extraction techniques. In this poster, fast and efficient way to purify poly-adenylated mRNA using affinity chromatography on CIMmultus™ Oligo dT column is presented.

The poly-adenylated tail of mRNA interacts with covalently bound oligo dT ligands in high-salt loading conditions, where electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged backbones of both, mRNA and oligo dT, are reduced and H-bonding in T-A base pair is emphasized. High salt concentration additionally screens out attractive electrostatic interactions between mRNA and other components in the process sample, thus facilitating aggregate reduction in purified product.

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2018

CIM® chromatographic monoliths enable high 1) productivity of pDNA downstream process (DSP) due to high dynamic binding capacity for pDNA in small elution volumes and short chromatographic runs; 2) high resolution power due to convective-based mass transfer.

Sample displacement mode utilizes different relative binding affinities of components in a sample mixture and separates pDNA isoforms under overloading conditions - where sc pDNA isoform acts as a displacer of oc or linear pDNA isoform.

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2017

Preparative scale chromatographic separation of open-circular (oc) from supercoiled (sc) plasmid DNA (pDNA) isoforms has been already established on CIM® C4 with high ligand density (C4 HLD) monolithic columns with sample loading in 3.0 M ammonium sulphate (AS). The process requires high molarity of AS, increasing the overall cost of the process. Sample displacement chromatography (SDC) can be used as an alternative to decrease the AS concentration required during loading onto hydrophobic chromatographic supports. This study compares three chromatographic monoliths with different hydrophobic ligands on the surface (C4 HLD, pyridine and histamine) for the purification of different pDNA vectors in SD mode.

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2016

Since plasmid DNA (pDNA) as a pharmaceutical product has stringent requirements of purity and efficacy, one or more chromatographic steps are often used in the downstream processing train. High ligand density butyl-modified (C4 HLD) monolithic support is currently used in a polishing step of a pDNA purification process (1) and is mainly focused to supercoiled (sc) pDNA isoform separation from the open circular (oc) and linear pDNA isoform as well as for removal of remaining gDNA and RNA. The goal of the study was to compare the productivities of two variations of the polishing chromatographic process employing monoliths – classical bind-elute (BE) versus recently described (2) sample displacement purification (SDP). Classical purification requires high concentration of ammonium sulphate (AS) during loading step and elution is then achieved by descending AS gradient. SDP utilises different relative binding affinities of components in a sample mixture and separates pDNA isoforms under overloading conditions, where sc pDNA isoform acts as a displacer of oc or linear pDNA isoform.

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2014

One of the major requirements for pharmaceutical-grade pDNA is its high homogeneity, being mostly in supercoiled (sc) isoform. Chromatographic separation of sc pDNA from open coiled (oc) or linear isoform is challenging due to their similar interactions with the chromatographic phases. Promising separation efficiency of pDNA isoforms was proven on recently developed histamine modified monolithic chromatographic column in descending ammonium sulfate gradient. The aim of the study was to further optimise the chromatographic conditions for sample analysis, where all three isoforms would be baseline separated.

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2012

Monolith chromatography media coupled with metal affinity ligands proved superior to the conventional particle-based matrix as a plasmid DNA (pDNA) purification platform. By harnessing the differential affinity of pDNA, RNA. Host cell proteins and endotoxin to copper ions in the solution a majority of endotoxin (90%) was removed from the alkaline cell lysate using CuCl2-induced precipitation. RNA and remaining endotoxin were subsequently processed by copper immobilized metal affinity column employing either monolith or particle-based matrix where both RNA and endotoxin were removed below detection limit with almost complete recovery of pDNA in the monolith was found to have several advantages in terms of handling feedstocks crowded with RNA in a concentration-independent manner and exhibiting flowrate-independent dynamic binding capacity for RNA. This enabled monolith-based process to be conducted at high feed concentration and flow rate. Resulting in pDNA vaccine purification at a high yield and purity and the process conditions investigated, the use of monolith column gave at least three fold higher productivity for recovery of purified pDNA as compared to the particle- based column, demonstrating its potential as a more rapid and economical platform for pDNA vaccine purification.

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