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On the cutting edge
October 2020
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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LONDON—U.K,-based organizations CPI, MicrofluidX and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) announced recently their collaboration in a project to develop bioprocessing technology for the rapid scale-up of cell and gene therapies. The technology has the potential to overcome a major bottleneck in the development of these novel treatments, and reduce the time and costs associated with bringing such therapies to market.
 
Significant advances have been made in recent years in the use of cell and gene therapies in disease areas with unmet clinical needs. However, reliable methods are still required to scale up the manufacture of these complex technologies to commercial levels, the partners in this collaboration say. Cell and gene therapies are produced from inherently variable living cells. As such, it is highly challenging to achieve consistent performance at different scales, which can lead to prolonged development times. In turn, this can significantly raise the cost of these therapies upon entry to the market.
 
The microfluidic cell culture technology being developed by MicrofluidX will provide manufacturers of cell and gene therapies with fine process control throughout development, ensuring consistent quality. The technology can be used to optimize cell characteristics and growth conditions early in development, before rapidly transitioning to large-scale manufacturing without the need to invest time in redesigning processes. Crucially, using microfluidics greatly reduces the consumption of expensive reagents, cutting down overall development costs. MicrofluidX recently closed an initial funding round, raising £1.4 million for its microfluidic platform. The company is now working with CPI and CGT Catapult to secure further funding and validate its prototypes.
 
CPI’s state-of-the-art facilities provide expertise and advanced equipment for developing GMP-compliant bioprocessing technology. In addition, CPI has drawn from its extensive experience in securing public funding to help MicrofluidX secure £500k of grant funding from Innovate UK for development of the microfluidic bioprocessing platform.
 
CGT Catapult has more than 200 experts in the industrialization, manufacturing and clinical adoption of cell and gene therapies, and it supports industry and academic partners to develop and commercialize these transformative medicines. In this collaboration, the organization will support MicrofluidX to implement, test and optimize the microfluidics platform, utilizing the technology and expertise at the CGT Catapult development center laboratories in London.
 
For some specific product offerings from other companies, read on below.
 

Unlocking deeper discoveries with the $600 genome
SAN DIEGO—Illumina Inc. recently announced the launch of NovaSeq 6000 v1.5 Reagent Kit, which aims to make whole-genome sequencing more accessible and affordable for labs of all sizes with the introduction of the $600 genome.
 
“In order to explore biology at higher resolution, we rely on technologies that enable us to dive deeper into previously unrecognized cell types with single cell and spatial applications,” said Edwin Hauw, vice president of marketing at 10x Genomics. “Together with Illumina’s technologies, we are able to simplify and amplify our workflows to capture new insights into the inner workings of biology.”
 
Coupled with the new NovaSeq 6000 v1.5 Reagent Kit, NovaSeq 6000 is said to accelerate scientific breakthroughs with “tremendous flexibility, accuracy and scale—delivering unique, industry-changing capabilities to drive discovery through deep sequencing, access to data-intensive next generation sequencing applications, and sequencing of large sample cohorts—now more affordable than ever.”
 

Custom service for influenza antigens
OXFORD, U.K.—The Native Antigen Company (now part of LGC’s Clinical Diagnostics Division), a leading supplier of reagents that enables research into vaccines and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases, recently announced the introduction of its custom contract service to rapidly develop antigen panels for influenza A and B viruses. This new service offers scientists access to high-quality proteins from emerging seasonal and pandemic influenza strains, to support ongoing research and development of diagnostics and vaccines.
 
The Native Antigen Company provides custom contract services to develop panels of the influenza antigens from a wide range of virus strains and subtypes using its proprietary HEK293 mammalian expression system (VirtuE), which is able to introduce proper protein folding and full glycosylation to closely mimic naturally occurring proteins.
 
“Understanding existing influenza strains and having access to the corresponding antigens is vital to help distinguish infection from that of other respiratory diseases, and to enable accurate diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Andy Lane, commercial director for The Native Antigen Company.
 

Choosing the right HPLC columns and skids for peptide purification
LYON, France—Novasep, a leading supplier of services and technologies for the life-sciences industry, announced that Frontier Biotechnologies Inc. has chosen Novasep Prochrom HPLC chromatography columns and skids for its site in Nanjing, China. Frontier Biotech is a global biopharmaceutical company whose core competence is to develop novel antiviral and long-acting drug products, its first commercial product being Aikening.
 
“Aikening is effective against most HIV-1 strains including drug-resistant strains, administered by intravenous infusion on a weekly basis. It is a peptide drug with a good safety profile and no predictable drug-drug interactions,” said Dr. C.J. Wang, CEO of Frontier Biotech. “Because the products and the production stability are closely related to the stability and robustness of the equipment, we hope we can produce Aikening API with highest quality with Novasep Prochrom equipment and meet the requirements of domestic and foreign markets, giving patients [the] best quality service.”

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