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2010

Biomanufacturing of antibodies, therapeutic proteins and vaccines or gene delivery vectors (either DNA or virus based) is a very complicated process where many things can go wrong. This is even more pronounced as the target biomolecules are extremely susceptible to the environmental conditions both during cultivation (upstream processing) as well as during isolation and purification (downstream processing). One can always doubt whether we have enough information about our complex biomolecule samples to consistently develop a safe product by running a robust and efficient purification bioprocess.

By using and understanding novel technologies one can design new process analytic technology (PAT) initiatives to overcome some of these problems. Here, we present novel monolithic analytical columns — CIMac columns — that can bridge this gap. In the first example, CIMac columns were applied for monitoring the purification process of virus like particles (VLP) which are used for production of vaccines and as delivery systems in gene therapy. In the second example, the monolithic analytical columns were also applied for monitoring the fermentation process of bacteriophages.

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Avir Green Hills Biotechnology is developing innovative seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines based on the deletion of the NS1 gene (del NS1 vaccine).The vaccine is replication-defective and applied intranasally. Recently,clinical phase I studies for H1N1 monovalent vaccine and H5N1 avian influenza vaccine were completed. Both were confirmed to be safe and immunogenic for humans. A production and purification process, which was successfully employed for the pilot-scale production of H1N1 and H5N1 influenza A vaccine virus, will be presented and compared to standard ultracentrifugation method. Details on obtained life virus yields as well as impurity removal will be given. The vaccine virus is produced in static cell culture using Vero (African Green monkey kidney) cells. After clarification the vaccine virus bulk is purified using the same(chromatography-based) scheme for all different subtypes: Concentration by tangential ultrafiltration, AEX chromatography using a CIM QA monolith, and an SEC polishing step allowing for buffer exchange. This purification scheme guarantees the thorough depletion of host cell DNA and total protein. For the ultracentrifugation approach chromatographic steps were replaced by a gradient ultracentrifugation step, comparison data are shown. In addition, an HPLC method for quantifying influenza virus in the vaccine with the use of CIM monolithic columns will be presented and the results will be compared with haemagglutination method.

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Rabies virus cause acute encephalitis. It is widely distributed around the globe and more than 55,000 people perish yearly and an additional 10 million post-exposure treatment are reported. About 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa. In countries that are endemic to rabies an immense need for cost-effective large-scale production of the Rabies vaccine occurs. Achieving required quality is challenging because majority of rabies vaccines are produced in Vero cells. This makes Rabies vaccine difficult to manufacture due to low titre of vaccine with lots of residual cellular DNA and serum proteins.

The objective of this work was to improve purity of rabies vaccine regarding residual DNA presence. Different mobile phases with different pH values were explored. Moreover, to develop cost-efficient downstream process for Rabies vaccine, monolith-based purification step was performed in different stages of downstream processing. Chromatographical fractions were analyzed for efficiency of DNA removal. In addition, recovery of Rabies vaccine was monitored. Finally, knowing the optimal conditions, a step-wise gradient was used for purification of larger amount of Rabies vaccine.

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2009

Application of plasmid DNA for gene therapy and vaccination has gained substantial interest in the last two decades. Topological homogeneity and impurity content are crucial for therapeutic usage of pDNA. Downstream processing has major influence on achieving regulatory demands in pDNA production and in order to get optimal purity different purification techniques have to be applied. It was demonstrated that methacrylate monoliths can be used for efficient purification process of plasmid DNA. High dynamic binding capacities and high flow rates of methacrylate monolith enable excellent purity and productivity.

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Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors continue to hold immense promise as gene transfer vehicles for a variety of gene therapy applications. Numerous pre-clinical and human clinical studies have been undertaken with rAAV, employing several of the identified serotypes to leverage their differing tissue tropism to correct a broad spectrum of genetic diseases. Despite the advantageous characteristics of rAAV and the extensive research into pre-clinical applications, production and purification scale-up continues to limit recombinant AAV (rAAV) use in large clinical trials that require even moderate vector doses. Therefore, AGTC has developed a high-yielding, scalable rAAV production system in suspension BHK cells that employs co-infection with two hybrid rHSV-rAAV vectors to provide all cis and trans-acting rAAV elements and the requisite helper virus functions for rAAV manufacturing.

In contrast to traditional, resin-based chromatography methods for rAAV purification, we have developed a two-step chromatographic process that employs a novel anion exchange Convective Interaction Media® monolithic column (CIM® monolith, BIA Separations) capture step followed by affinity chromatography (AVB Sepharose™, GE Healthcare), which yields rAAV vector stocks in very high purity. This scalable process allows significant reduction in processing time due to the high capture step dynamic binding capacity, flow rates and resolution. The resulting overall chromatography recovery compares favorably to our first and second generation processes which used three-step, resin-based column chromatography and membrane-based two step chromatography, respectively.

The CIM QA-AVB process was scaled to accommodate 10 L suspension production runs and was successful at recovering as much as 1 × 1015 purified AAV1 DRP in a single day. The process is highly reproducible and it is applicable for the purification of multiple AAV serotypes with over 95% purity and overall yield of > 30%.

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Avir Green Hills Biotechnology is developing innovative seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines based on the deletion of the NS1 gene (delNS1 vaccine). The vaccine is replication-defective and applied intranasally. Currently, an H1N1 monovalent vaccine is being tested in a clinical phase I study, with an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine soon to be initiated. A production and purification process, which was successfully employed for the pilot-scale production of H1N1 and H5N1 influenza A vaccine virus, will be presented. Data on the selection of chromatographic media, relevant to eliminate downstream purification bottlenecks will also be discussed.

Details on obtained virus yields as well as impurity removal will be given. The vaccine virus is produced in static cell culture using Vero (African Green monkey kidney) cells. After clarification the vaccine virus bulk is purified using the same scheme for all different subtypes: Concentration by tangential ultra filtration, AEX chromatography using a CIM QA monolith, and an SEC polishing step allowing for buffer exchange. This purification scheme guarantees the thorough depletion of host cell DNA and total protein. In addition, an HPLC method for quantifying influenza virus in the vaccine with the use of CIM monolithic columns will be presented and the results will be compared with haemagglutination method.

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In an average influenza season, we face hundreds of thousands of influenza cases. Up to 50,000 deaths per year can be ascribed to influenza epidemics. Nevertheless, this is relatively harmless compared to the current, permanent threat of a worldwide pandemic caused by avian influenza.

AVIR Green Hills Biotechnology is developing innovative seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines based on the deletion of the NS1 gene (ΔNS1 vaccine) [1]. The vaccine is replication-defective and applied intranasally. Currently, an H1N1 monovalent vaccine is being tested in a clinical phase I study and clinical trials with H5N1 avian influenza vaccine will follow in fall 2007.

A production process, which was successfully employed for the pilot-scale production of H1N1 and H5N1 influenza A virus is presented here. The upstream process is performed according to the specific requirements of the respective influenza subtypes. Currently, 15 L batches are produced in cell factories using Vero (African green monkey kidney) cells. The vaccine bulk is purified by using the very same scheme for all different subtypes. For purification, the cell culture supernatant is clarified by centrifugation and the virus is concentrated by tangential ultra filtration. The concentrated virus is subsequently purified in two chromatographic steps which were co-developed with BIA Separations d.o.o.: First, an anion exchange monolithic column is used. This is followed by size exclusion chromatography for polishing and buffer exchange.

This purification scheme guarantees the thorough depletion of host cell DNA and total protein, and recovers at least 25% of the infectious virus.

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2008

Anion-exchange chromatography is fundamental in downstream processing of plasmids both as a process and analytical technique. CIM anion-exchange monolithic columns have already been successfully used for the industrial scale purification of pharmaceutical grade small plasmid DNA [1].

In this work we report about the use of the newly developed monolithic analytical column intended for plasmid DNA determination in terms of its analytical performance. Higher degree of sensitivity, precision and accuracy is necessary in order to determine the quality of clinical grade DNA intended for therapeutic use. Plasmids purified from Escherichia coli fermentation exist predominantly in the supercoiled form (SC) the other two topoisomers present in the final product are mostly the open circular (OC) and linear forms [2]. Different chromatographic conditions were tested and the separation was optimized in terms of buffer and pH selection as well as in terms of gradient slope and column length. The results were compared to the results obtained with established analytical methods.

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During last decades different methods for purification of influenza viruses have been described. Most of these methods were developed for purification of egg derived influenza virus which is still the main production system for influenza vaccine viruses. Since cell culture based technology is gaining more and more importance, the need for alternative, efficient and scaleable purification methods has risen. Chromatography is becoming a method of choice for purification of viruses. Relevance of this technique was recently demonstrated also for influenza viruses. Methacrylate monoliths are characterized by large channel diameter, high surface accessibility and convective mass transport. As a consequence they have high binding capacity for large molecules, enable high flow rates at low pressure drop and therefore increase productivity. Recently it has been proven that methacrylate monolithic columns can also be used for purification and concentration of different viruses.

It was the purpose of this work to explore possibilities for purification of influenza viruses on ion exchange methacrylate monoliths. Different subtypes of influenza A and influenza B virus were tested employing various ion exhange monolithic columns.

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During the last decade important developments in molecular medicine and adenoviral vector design have been achieved, leading to an increased use of adenoviral vectors in clinical gene therapy protocols. One of the main advantages of the adenovirus is their ability to replicate at high titres in permisive cell lines. The availability of large quantities of adenoviral vector preparations is recognized as an important limitation to pre-clinical and clinical studies. Consequently there is a global focus on large scale production of adenoviral vectors, providing high titres combined with fast, effective and reliable purification methods.

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2006

Gene therapy has already shown some great results in treatment and cure of some monogene diseases, such as diabetes. While the use of genetically modified viruses raises safety concerns, synthetic formulations of genes inserted in plasmids are regarded as safer. At present, most clinical trials involve plasmids smaller than 10 kb. However, the concern that regulation of the functioning of the gene is ensured together with the expectation of the progression of gene therapy to multigene disfunctions, like cancer or complex nevrodegenerative disfunctions (Alzheimer disease), will require the production of larger plasmids [1].

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2005

Plasmids are excellent genetic vectors and have been widely used in gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology for a long time. In recent years, plasmids are intensively investigated for gene therapy purposes and genetic vaccination. In this case, plasmid DNA (pDNA) of high purity is required. To follow such demands, several chromatographic steps are commonly needed. In the case of buffer compatibility, columns can be connected in-line to overcome time consuming and yield lowering multiple chromatographic steps. Since each of the unit operations contributes to the dispersion, the resolution is further decreased by each chromatographic step. This drawback might be surmounted by combining several chromatography steps into a single chromatography column. This approach is known as multidimensional or conjoint liquid chromatography (CLC).

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Viruses have proven to be useful vectors for gene therapy purposes. As therapeutics for human use they must be pure and contaminant free. Traditionally, viruses are purified by complicated and time consuming methods such as CsCl density gradient centrifugation or similar. In recent years liquid chromatography has became interesting method for virus purification. It provides high level of purity required for human use and increases productivity. Traditional chromatographic supports were mostly designed for purification of proteins and as such are commonly inappropriate for viruses. Alternative to traditional chromatographic support are methacrylate monoliths (CIM monoliths), characterized by large channel diameter, high surface accessibility and convective mass transport.

The aim of this work was to characterize CIM supports for separation and possible purification of a model virus Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) from crude plant material.

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2004

By using a combination of two CIM® tube monolithic columns, OH and DEAE chemistry, we were able to successfully purify plasmid DNA from bacterial culture without using RNase. Purified plasmid DNA is very pure, since common contaminants, such as proteins, genomic DNA, endotoxins and RNA were under the detection limit. The scale up units produced according to cGMP standard are already used for the purification of plasmid DNA for gene therapy purposes on industrial scale.

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Traditionally, viruses are purified by time consuming methods such as CsCl density gradient centrifugation or similar. These methods are often inefficient and limited to small scale. In recent years different methods for virus purification, based on ion exchange, gel filtration and affinity chromatography have became popular. Recently, CIM® disk monolithic columns were used for successful concentration of two plant viruses (1) and for improved detection of two human viruses (2). Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) were concentrated and subsequently detected from extremely diluted samples in which they were initially undetectable. Successful concentrations of both viruses encourage us to explore the possibilities of CIM® supports for virus purification. As a model virus ToMV was selected. ToMV is a rod shaped plant virus with a typical size of 300 x 18 nm and isoelectric point at pH 4.6.

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2003

Plasmids are episomes that have been recognized in few eukaryotic and most prokaryotic species. Some plasmids are excellent genetic vectors and they have been widely used in gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology for a long time. In recent years plasmids were intensively used for gene therapy purposes (1). Most often purification starts with the cells harvest followed by alkaline lysis step in which ribonuclease A (RNase) is typically used. After that, plasmid DNA can be precipitated and used directly or can be further purified by different methods (2). Currently, several chromatographic methods, such as ion-exchange, size exclusion, affinity, and hydrophobic chromatography, have been demonstrated in plasmid purification (3). Until now a limited number of small scale purification methods without use of RNase were published. Convective Interaction Media CIM® is a monolithic chromatographic support for which has been shown that is very efficient for the separation of large molecules, such as proteins, DNA and viruses (4).

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Plasmids are episomes that have been recognized in few eukaryotic and most prokaryotic species. Some plasmids are excellent genetic vectors and they have been widely used in gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology for a long time. In recent years plasmids were intensively used for gene therapy purposes (1).Most often purification starts with the cells harvest followed by alkaline lysis step in which ribonucleaseA (RNase) is typically used. After that plasmid DNA can be precipitated and used directly or can be further purified by different methods (2).Currently, several chromatographic methods, such as ion-exchange, size exclusion, affinity, and hydrophobic chromatography, have been demonstrated in plasmid purification (3). Until now a limited number of small scale purification methods without use of RNase were published. Convective Interaction Media CIM®is a monolithic chromatographic support for which has been shown that is very efficient for the separation of large molecules, such as proteins, DNA and viruses (4).

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2002

The progress in gene-therapy and DNA vaccination leads to a growing demand of therapeutic applicable plasmid DNA (pDNA). To guarantee the supply for the clinical trials and finally for the market new pDNA production processes, which meet all regulatory requirements, have to be developed. Conventional small scale techniques can not easily be transferred to the manufacturing scale (technical reasons and safety considerations). We developed a generic large scale process for highly purified plasmids “free” of bacterial contaminants which works without enzymes, detergents (except SDS during the cell lysis) and organic solvents.

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Most commonly plasmids are manufactured by fermentation of E. coli. In the cells several isoforms of the plasmid are generated: supercoiled (sc), open circular (oc) and linear as well as dimeric forms. After alkaline lysis plasmids are accompanied in solution by genomic DNA (gDNA), RNA, proteins and other cell compounds [1]. In addition to these impurities, the plasmid isoforms have to be separated efficiently in order to get a final product containing > 95 % of ccc form [2]. Chromatographic resins used in biotechnology are usually designed for the separation of polypeptides, providing only low capacity for polynucleotides (< 1 mg/mL).

In this work we present an optimised purification step for large scale purification of therapeutic applicable pDNA, based on an alternative chromatography resin (CIM Convective Interaction Media®).

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2000

Production and downstream processing in biotechnology requires fast and accurate control of each step in the process. Liquid chromatography of biopolymers on so-called soft supports is typically slow, often causing significant product degradation. One way of improving these boundary conditions in liquid chromatography is the use of monolithic adsorbents. The basis for fast separations with such media is a reduced mass transfer resistance owing to the fact that pore diffusion is practically non-existent. Chromatography with compact, porous units such as monolithic columns is being used increasingly for analytical and preparative separations of biopolymers with apparent molecular mass ranging from several thousand to up to several million.

This paper describes the use of a CIM® Convective Interaction Media for fast purification of plasmid DNA as well as for the concentration of viruses. Plasmid DNAs are circular duplex DNA molecules that are maintained stable as episomal genetic information within bacteria. They play an important role in gene technology - they are used for applications such as transformation, sequencing, transfection studies, etc. These applications require satisfactory purity of used plasmid DNA. For purification of plasmid DNA from Escherichia coli, monolithic units as anion-exchangers (CIM® DEAE and QA disks) were used. Separation of RNA from DNA as well as concentration of plasmid DNA were performed on the same disks.

All the methods for concentration of viruses, in general, are expensive, time-consuming and they are frequently not very successful. Therefore an attempt to bind viruses on an anion exchanger (CIM® DEAE disk) and elute bound virions in small volume (concentration) was done. As a model virus, measles was chosen. Using CIM® DEAE disk concentration of the measles viruses was successfully performed in less than 10 minutes.

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