Matevž Korenč, Nina Mencin, Jasmina Puc, Janja Skok, Kristina Šprinzar Nemec, Anže Martinčič Celjar, Pete Gagnon, Aleš Štrancar, Rok Sekirnik
Cell & Gene Therapy Insights 2021; 7(9), 1207–1216
One of the major challenges of mRNA based vaccines has been their requirement for distribution and storage at extremely low temperatures, indicating that exposure of mRNA to suboptimal physico-chemical conditions can result in degradation and loss of potency; it is unclear whether this is due to instability of mRNA drug substance, or LNP-encapsulated mRNA, or both. In this study we compare the stability of model mRNA drug substance (eGFP, 995 nt) prepared by affinity chromatography with the stability of mRNA purified by precipitation. We show that both purification methods lead to highly pure mRNA drug substance, however, mRNA purified by chromatography remains stable for 28 days at 37°C, whereas mRNA purified by precipitation is subject to significant degradation under the same storage conditions. We conclude that chromatography eliminates elements and/or conditions with adverse impact on the quality of mRNA to a greater extent than precipitation method and that choosing appropriate purification strategy is crucial not only to achieve target purity but also to obtain a stable product with retained integrity.
BPI eBook: Commercialization of Cell & Gene Therapies
Nejc Pavlin, Blaž Bakalar, Špela Kralj, Janja Skok , Andreja Gramc Livk, Aleš Štrancar
Plasmid DNA (pDNA) has become a crucial component in the production of next generation therapeutics such as messenger RNA (mRNA) and viral vectors. As companies ramp up their production capabilities and move towards clinical applications, obtaining cGMP grade pDNA has become a production bottleneck, leading to lengthy production delays. There is a growing market demand for solutions that can streamline the production of cGMP pDNA and help optimize down-stream processes (DSP) for better yields & purity. The key step in this process is having quantifiably reliable analytics that give rapid results for process optimization and scale-up, as well as production runs. Establishing and expanding in-house pDNA production platform in a quick and efficient manner will be a key differentiator between more and less successful next generation therapeutics projects.
Pete Gagnon, Blaž Goričar, Sara Drmota Prebil, Hana Jug, Maja Leskovec, Aleš Štrancar
BioProcess J, 2021; 20
Separation of empty and full AAV8 capsids was achieved during their elution from a weak anion exchanger with an ascending pH gradient at low conductivity. Experimental data suggest elution was mediated by loss of positive charge from the exchanger. The method produced a full capsid peak with fewer empty capsids than elution of a strong anion exchanger with a salt gradient. Elution of the weak exchanger by sodium chloride gradients or by pH gradients in the presence of sodium chloride gave inferior separation performance. Pre-elution of empty capsids with a pH step allowed full capsids to be eluted by salt without compromising separation. Loading at intermediate pH prevented empty capsid binding and enabled step elution of full capsids in a physiological buffer environment.
Cell & Gene Therapy Insights 2021; 7(8), 1125
Downstream processing remains one of the main bottlenecks in adenoviral vector manufacturing. At BIA Separations, a Sartorius company, we offer a platform for purification of adenoviral vaccines using market-leading CIM® monolithic chromatographic columns and an analytical toolbox for process monitoring in adenoviral vaccine production.
Nerea Zabaleta, Wenlong Dai, Urja Bhatt, Cécile Hérate, Pauline Maisonnasse, Jessica A. Chichester, Julio Sanmiguel, Reynette Estelien, Kristofer T. Michalson, Cheikh Diop, Dawid Maciorowski, Nathalie Dereuddre Bosquet, Mariangela Cavarelli, Anne-Sophie Gallouët, Thibaut Naninck, Nidhal Kahlaoui, Julien Lemaitre, Wenbin Qi, Elissa Hudspeth, Allison Cucalon, Cecilia D. Dyer, M. Betina Pampena, James J. Knox, Regina C. LaRocque, Richelle C. Charles, Dan Li, Maya Kim, Abigail Sheridan, Nadia Storm, Rebecca I. Johnson, Jared Feldman, Blake M. Hauser, Vanessa Contreras, Romain Marlin, Raphaël Ho Tsong Fang, Catherine Chapon, Sylvie van der Werf, Eric Zinn, Aisling Ryan, Dione T. Kobayashi, Ruchi Chauhan, Marion McGlynn, Edward T. Ryan, Aaron G. Schmidt, Brian Price, Anna Honko, Anthony Griffiths, Sam Yaghmour, Robert Hodge, Michael R. Betts, Mason W. Freeman, James M. Wilson, Roger Le Grand, Luk H. Vandenberghe
Cell Host & Microbe, Volume 29, Issue 9, 2021, Pages 1437-1453
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has affected more than 185 million people worldwide resulting in over 4 million deaths. To contain the pandemic, there is a continued need for safe vaccines that provide durable protection at low and scalable doses and can be deployed easily. Here, AAVCOVID-1, an adeno-associated viral (AAV), spike-gene-based vaccine candidate demonstrates potent immunogenicity in mouse and non-human primates following a single injection and confers complete protection from SARS-CoV-2 challenge in macaques. The AAVCOVID vector has no relevant pre-existing immunity in humans and does not elicit cross-reactivity to common AAVs used in gene therapy. Vector genome persistence and expression wanes following injection. The single low-dose requirement, high-yield manufacturability, and 1-month stability for storage at room temperature may make this technology well suited to support effective immunization campaigns for emerging pathogens on a global scale.
In this study, the AAVCOVID candidates were produced at larger scale via standard AAV production processes by Novartis Gene Therapies, following their stablished protocol with only minimal modifications to adjust to the AAVrh32.33 technology. Briefly, AC1 and AC3 were produced via three plasmid transfection. After cell lysis and lysate clarification, tangential flow filtration (TFF) was conducted to achieve volume reduction. The TFF retentate was next enriched for AAV particles on a cation exchange chromatography column (BIA Separations, Sartorius). The eluate was concentrated, and buffer exchanged through an additional TFF step, before CsCl ultracentrifugation to separate genome containing versus empty AAV particles. Finally, formulation was achieved through TFF before bulk drug substance was filtered.
Urh Černigoj, Jana Vidič, Ana Ferjančič, Urša Sinur, Klemen Božič, Nina Mencin, Anže Martinčič Celjar, Pete Gagnon, Aleš Štrancar
Electrophoresis, September 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/elps.202100210
Elution of strong and weak anion exchangers with sodium chloride gradients is commonly employed for analysis of sample mixtures containing different isomers of plasmid DNA. Gradient elution of a weak anion exchanger (diethylaminoethyl, DEAE) in the presence of guanidine hydrochloride (Gdn) roughly doubles resolution between open-circular (oc) and supercoiled (sc) isomers. It also improves resolution among sc, linear, and multimeric/aggregated forms. Sharper elution peaks with less tailing increase sensitivity about 30%. However, elution with an exclusively-Gdn gradient to 900 mM causes more than 10% loss of plasmid. Elution with a sodium chloride gradient while maintaining Gdn at a level concentration of 300 mM achieves close to 100% recovery of sc plasmid while maintaining the separation improvements achieved by exclusively-Gdn elution. Corresponding improvements in separation performance are not observed on a strong (quaternary amine) anion exchanger. Other chaotropic salts do not produce a favorable result on either exchanger, nor does the inclusion of surfactants or EDTA. Selectivity of the DEAE-Gdn method is orthogonal to electrophoresis, but with better quantification than agarose electrophoresis, better quantitative accuracy than capillary electrophoresis, and resolution approaching capillary electrophoresis.
Rafael G. Ferreira, Neal F. Gordon, Rick Stock, Demetri Petrides
Processes 2021, 9(8), 1430
The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated the rapid development of numerous vaccines that have proven effective against SARS-CoV-2. Several of these successful vaccines are based on the adenoviral vector platform. The mass manufacturing of these vaccines poses great challenges, especially in the context of a pandemic where extremely large quantities must be produced quickly at an affordable cost. In this work, two baseline processes for the production of a COVID-19 adenoviral vector vaccine, B1 and P1, were designed, simulated and economically evaluated with the aid of the software SuperPro Designer.
In the purification process the retentate from the ultrafiltration step was subjected to anion-exchange chromatography (AEX), operating in capture mode, to remove protein and DNA impurities. A strong anion-exchange column with a monolithic structure (CIMmultus QA from BIA Separations) is used in this step due to its high binding capacity for VPs.
Both processes were sized to produce 400 M/yr vaccine doses. The media and facility-dependent expenses were found to be the main contributors to the operating cost. The results indicate that adenoviral vector vaccines can be practically manufactured at large scale and low cost.
Tomas Kostelec, Rok Sekirnik, Anže Martinčič Celjar, Kristina Šprinzar Nemec, Andreja Gramc Livk, Pete Gagnon, Aleš Štrancar
BioProcess International, June 2021
COVID-19 has focused a spotlight on the ability of mRNA technology to accelerate vaccine development and approval. That same technology can hasten development and approval of other therapeutic classes, including cancer immunotherapy, protein replacement, and gene therapy. Fulfilling those opportunities imposes significant challenges on process developers and manufacturers to improve existing processes. Scale-up to produce millions of doses (tens of kilograms) compounds those challenges. Furthermore, every step of the journey requires high-performance analytical methods, to ensure patient safety and maximize productivity.
Pete Gagnon, Maja Leskovec, Sara Drmota Prebil, Rok Žigon, Maja Štokelj, Andrej Raspor, Sebastijan Peljhan, Ales Štrancar
Journal of Chromatography A, 2021
Separation of empty and full adeno-associated virus capsids by multimodal metal affinity chromatography was investigated using a positively charged metal affinity ligand. A subpopulation of empty capsids eluted first, followed by full capsids, and later by more empty capsids and debris. Empty and full capsid composition of chromatography fractions was evaluated by cesium chloride density gradient centrifugation followed by stratigraphic flow analysis of the centrifuge tube contents, monitored by intrinsic fluorescence. Columns charged with barium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and ferric ions gave similar results with respect to capsid separation. Charging with cupric ions maintained resolution between early-eluting empty capsids and full capsids but caused them to elute at lower conductivity. Empty and full capsids were fractionated with Tris-borate gradients, sodium chloride gradients, and magnesium chloride gradients. Recovery of full serotype 9 capsids was 100% with complete elimination of empty capsids. All metal ions bound contaminant subsets that required sodium hydroxide for removal. Columns charged with ferric iron and manganese bound more contaminants than all other metals. Columns charged with calcium, magnesium, barium, and copper bound the least. Contaminant binding on zinc-charged columns was intermediate between the two groups.
Artaches A. Kazarian, Wesley Barnhart, Iain D.G. Campuzano, Jeremy Cabrera, Theodore Fitch, Jason Long, Kelvin Sham, Bin Wu, Justin K. Murray
Journal of Chromatography A,Volume 1634, 2020
The current study investigates a method for purification of the G-quadruplex secondary structure, naturally formed by a guanine-rich 21-mer oligonucleotide strand using a monolithic convective interaction media quaternary amine (CIM-QA) column under ion-exchange conditions. The monolithic support was initially evaluated on a preparative scale against a highly efficient TSKgel SuperQ-5PW ion-exchange support designed for oligonucleotide purification. The CIM analogue demonstrated clear advantages over the particle based support on the basis of rapid separation times, while also affording high purity of the G-quadruplex. Various parameters were investigated including the type of mobile phase anion, cation, pH and injection load to induce and control quadruplex formation, as well as enhance chromatographic separation and final purity. Potassium afforded the most prominent quadruplex formation, yet sodium allowed for the highest resolution and purity to be achieved with a 30 mg injection on an 8 ml CIM-QA monolithic column. This method was applied to purify in excess of 300 mg of the quadruplex, with excellent retention time precision of under 1% RSD. Native mass spectrometry was utilized to confirm the identity of the intact G-quadruplex under non denaturing conditions, while ion-pairing reversed-phase methods confirmed the presence of the single stranded oligonucleotide in high purity (92%) under denaturing conditions.
The key advantage of the purification method enables isolation of the G-quadruplex in its native state on a milli-gram scale, allowing structural characterization to further our knowledge of its role and function. The G-quadruplex can also be subsequently denaturated at elevated temperature causing single strand formation if additional reactions are to be pursued, such as annealing to form a duplex, and evaluation in in vitro or in vivo studies.
Michael Winkler, Mikhail Goldfarb, Shaojie Weng, Jeff Smith, Susan Wexelblat, John Li, Alejandro Becerra, Sandra Bezemer, Kevin Sleijpen, Aleš Štrancar, Sara Primec, Romina Zabar, April Schubert, Akunna Iheanacho, and David Cetlin
BioProcess International, April 2021
Over the past decade, adenoassociated virus (AAV) vectors have become established as leading gene-delivery vehicles. In 2017, the pipeline for gene therapies included 351 drugs in clinical trials and 316 in preclinical development. As those candidates advance, significant efforts are being made in process development and manufacturing for viral vectors, with the overall goal of reducing process impurities while maintaining the highest possible process yield.
BIA Separations (now part of Sartorius AG) has developed and commercialized CIMmultus QA monoliths, which have been cited in several AAV downstream processes for their ability to separate empty and full virus particles effectively. Monolithic supports represent a unique type of stationary phase for liquid chromatography, bioconversion, and solid-phase synthesis. Aside from increased processing speed, monolithic flow-through pores (channels) also provide easy access for large molecules, which supports both purification and depletion of nanoparticles such as plasmid DNA (pDNA) molecules and AAV particles.
Thanaporn Liangsupree, Evgen Multia, Marja-Liisa Riekkola
Journal of Chromatography A, Volume 1636, 2021
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are heterogenous membrane-bound vesicles released from various origins. EVs play a crucial role in cellular communication and mediate several physiological and pathological processes, highlighting their potential therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Due to the rapid increase in interests and needs to elucidate EV properties and functions, numerous isolation and separation approaches for EVs have been developed to overcome limitations of conventional techniques, such as ultracentrifugation. This review focuses on recently emerging and modern EV isolation and separation tech- niques, including size-, charge-, and affinity-based techniques while excluding ultracentrifugation and precipitation-based techniques due to their multiple limitations. The advantages and drawbacks of each technique are discussed together with insights into their applications. Emerging approaches all share sim- ilar features in terms of being time-effective, easy-to-operate, and capable of providing EVs with suitable and desirable purity and integrity for applications of interest. Combination and hyphenation of techniques have been used for EV isolation and separation to yield EVs with the best quality. The most recent de- velopment using an automated on-line system including selective affinity-based trapping unit and asym- metrical flow field flow fractionation allows reliable isolation and fractionation of EV subpopulations from human plasma.
Sebastijan Peljhan, Maja Štokelj, Sara Drmota Prebil, Pete Gagnon and Aleš Štrancar
Cell & Gene Therapy Insights, March 2021
Ultracentrifugation (UC) is a well-known technique for fractionating adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids according to their density, which is mainly a function of their encapsidated DNA mass. Empty capsids represent the lowest density subpopulation. Full capsids represent the highest density subpopulation, sometimes accompanied by partially full capsids of intermediate density. Fractions can be collected after sedimentation for analysis but the practice is laborious and discourages application of multiple monitoring techniques that might provide deeper insights into sample composition. Anion exchange chromatography (AEC) also achieves fractionation of empty and full capsids for many AAV serotypes. The degree of separation varies among serotypes and does not correlate strictly with UC. This is not surprising since separation by AEC is highly influenced by capsid surface charge, which is independent of the amount of DNA packaged within the capsids. Chromatography methods however present a significant analytical advantage in the ease of monitoring the column effluent, including with multiple detectors. UV absorbance at 260 nm and 280 nm permits estimation of empty and full capsid proportions in any given peak. Intrinsic fluorescence enables estimation of relative areas of empty capsid peaks and full capsid peaks. Light scattering does the same and permits the further determination of capsid size and mass. In this report, we merge UC with an HPLC monitoring array to simultaneously analyze dual wavelength UV, intrinsic fluorescence, and light scattering through cesium chloride density gradient strata. Limitations of each monitoring method are discussed. UC results are compared with chromatography profiles to highlight distinction between separation methods. Practical application of results for final product characterization is considered, along with potential to support development of better purification processes.
Pete Gagnon, Maja Leskovec, Blaz Goricar, and Aleš Štrancar
BPI, December 17, 2020
With its first licensed therapeutic now marketed worldwide, adeno-associated virus (AAV) has become a preferred vector for gene therapy. However, unlocking its full potential still poses challenges, many of which are associated with purification. The first involves the transition from upstream to downstream processes. AAV-bearing lysates are laden with debris that foul filtration media and limit or prevent concentration. Another challenge involves reduction of soluble host-cell DNA, which is complicated by its strong association with nucleoproteins. A third involves elimination of empty capsids. Currently, ultracentrifugation meets that need, but scale-up issues make chromatographic alternatives attractive. A fourth challenge involves the need for rapid, accurate, and revealing analytical results to guide process development, support validation, document control, and enable reproducibility of manufacturing processes. The following article shares experimental data showing how those challenges can be addressed to advance the evolution of gene therapy with AAV.
Petrović T, Alves I, Bugada D, Pascual J, Vučković F, Skelin A, Gaifem J, Villar-Garcia J, Vicente MM, Fernandes Â, Dias AM, Kurolt IC, Markotić A, Primorac D, Soares A, Malheiro L, Trbojević-Akmačić I, Abreu M, Sarmento E Castro R, Bettinelli S, Callegaro A, Arosio M, Sangiorgio L, Lorini LF, Castells X, Horcajada JP, Pinho SS, Allegri M, Barrios C, Lauc G.
Glycobiology. 2020 Nov.
A large variation in the severity of disease symptoms is one of the key open questions in COVID-19 pandemics. The fact that only a small subset of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop severe disease suggests that there have to be some predisposing factors, but biomarkers that reliably predict disease severity have not been found so far. Since overactivation of the immune system is implicated in a severe form of COVID-19 and the IgG glycosylation is known to be involved in the regulation of different immune processes, we evaluated the association of inter-individual variation in IgG N-glycome composition with the severity of COVID-19. The analysis of 166 severe and 167 mild cases from hospitals in Spain, Italy and Portugal revealed statistically significant differences in the composition of the IgG N-glycome. The most notable difference was the decrease in bisecting Nacetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) in severe patients from all three cohorts. IgG galactosylation was also lower in severe cases in all cohorts, but the difference in galactosylation was not statistically significant after correction for multiple testing. To our knowledge, this is the first study exploring IgG N-glycome variability in COVID-19 severity.
Pete Gagnon, Blaz Goricar, Nina Mencin, Timotej Zvanut, Sebastijan Peljhan, Maja Lescovec and Ales Strancar
Pharmaceutics. 2021 Jan 17;13(1):113
HPLC is established as a fast convenient analytical technology for characterizing the content of empty and full capsids in purified samples containing adeno-associated virus (AAV). UV-based monitoring unfortunately over-estimates the proportion of full capsids and offers little value for characterizing unpurified samples. The present study combines dual-wavelength UV monitoring with intrinsic fluorescence, extrinsic fluorescence, and light-scattering to extend the utility of HPLC for supporting development of therapeutic AAV-based drugs. Applications with anion exchange (AEC), cation exchange (CEC), and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) are presented. Intrinsic fluorescence increases sensitivity of AAV detection over UV and enables more objective estimation of empty and full capsid ratios by comparison of their respective peak areas. Light scattering enables identification of AAV capsids in complex samples, plus semiquantitative estimation of empty and full capsid ratios from relative peak areas of empty and full capsids. Extrinsic Picogreen fluorescence enables semiquantitative tracking of DNA with all HPLC methods at all stages of purification. It does not detect encapsidated DNA but reveals DNA associated principally with the exteriors of empty capsids. It also enables monitoring of host DNA contamination across chromatograms. These enhancements support many opportunities to improve characterization of raw materials and process intermediates, to accelerate process development, provide rapid in-process monitoring, and support process validation.
by Simon Staubach, Pete Gagnon, Katja Vrabec, Tjaša Lojpur, Sebastijan Peljhan, Bernd Giebel and Aleš Štrancar
BioProcess International, 2020
The traditional classification of extracellular vesicles (EVs) includes three types: exosomes, microvesicles, and apoptotic vesicles. Each type arises from a distinct origin and exhibits distinct characteristics. The problem is that their size ranges overlap and that the major surface proteins presented by exosomes also are present on the surfaces of microvesicles and apoptotic bodies. This makes it a challenge for process developers to identify the vesicle fraction that best serves a particular exosome therapy. Anion-exchange chromatography (AEC) can fractionate EVs into populations of different composition. This article highlights the complementarity of two analytical methods for characterizing distinctions among EV populations separated by AEC: imaging flow cytometry (IFCM) and size-exclusion chromatography.
by Maribel Rios, Aleš Štrancar, J. Michael Hatfield and Pete Gagnon
BioProcess International, 2020
Adenoassociated viral (AAV) vectors have become synonymous with gene therapy delivery. However, because they are produced in such small quantities and because their upstream processes carry comparatively large amounts of host-cell DNA and other impurities, AAV purification can be challenging. Several researchers have applied different chromatographic strategies, but no universal method has been adopted in the biopharmaceutical industry.
This eBook features a discussion among several industry experts that explores challenges specific to AAV purification, shedding light on whether current strategies and separation technologies are up to the task. The conversation traverses issues relating to material handling at the upstream–downstream interface, removal of host-cell DNA, chromatographic separation of empty and full capsids, and a lack of fast and robust in-process analytics for downstream processes. Participants also explore whether the rise of AAV-based treatments will require downstream scientists to shift away from the antibody-centered conceptions of chromatography that have grown alongside the biotherapeutics industry.
E. Multia, T. Liangsupree, M. Jussila, J. Ruiz-Jimenez, M. Kemell and M. Riekkola
Analytical Chemistry, 2020
An automated on-line isolation and fractionation system including controlling software was developed for selected nanosized biomacromolecules from human plasma by on-line coupled immunoaffinity chromatography asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (IAC-AsFlFFF). The on-line system was versatile, only different monoclonal antibodies, anti-apolipoprotein B-100, anti-CD9, or anti-CD61, were immobilized on monolithic disk columns for isolation of lipoproteins and extracellular vesicles (EVs). The platelet-derived CD61-positive EVs and CD9-positive EVs, isolated by IAC, were further fractionated by AsFlFFF to their sizebased subpopulations (e.g., exomeres and exosomes) for further analysis. Field-emission scanning electron microscopy elucidated the morphology of the subpopulations, and 20 free amino acids and glucose in EV subpopulations were identified and quantified in the ng/mL range using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS/MS). The study revealed that there were significant differences between EV origin and size-based subpopulations. The on-line coupled IAC-AsFlFFF system was successfully programmed for reliable execution of 10 sequential isolation and fractionation cycles (37−80 min per cycle) with minimal operator involvement, minimal sample losses, and contamination. The relative standard deviations (RSD) between the cycles for human plasma samples were 0.84−6.6%.
U. Černigoj, A. Štrancar
DNA Vaccines. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2197, pp 167-192
Purification of high-quality plasmid DNA in large quantities is a crucial step in its production for therapeutic use and is usually conducted by different chromatographic techniques. Large-scale preparations require the optimization of yield and homogeneity, while maximizing removal of contaminants and preserving molecular integrity. The advantages of Convective Interaction Media® (CIM®) monolith stationary phases, including low backpressure, fast separation of macromolecules, and flow-rate-independent resolution qualified them to be used effectively in separation of plasmid DNA on laboratory as well as on large scale. A development and scale-up of plasmid DNA downstream process based on chromatographic monoliths is described and discussed below. Special emphasis is put on the introduction of process analytical technology principles and tools for optimization and control of a downstream process.