Animal cell cultures: recent achievements and perspectives in the production of biopharmaceuticals
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- Butler, M. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2005) 68: 283. doi:10.1007/s00253-005-1980-8
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There has been a rapid increase in the number and demand for approved biopharmaceuticals produced from animal cell culture processes over the last few years. In part, this has been due to the efficacy of several humanized monoclonal antibodies that are required at large doses for therapeutic use. There have also been several identifiable advances in animal cell technology that has enabled efficient biomanufacture of these products. Gene vector systems allow high specific protein expression and some minimize the undesirable process of gene silencing that may occur in prolonged culture. Characterization of cellular metabolism and physiology has enabled the design of fed-batch and perfusion bioreactor processes that has allowed a significant improvement in product yield, some of which are now approaching 5 g/L. Many of these processes are now being designed in serum-free and animal-component-free media to ensure that products are not contaminated with the adventitious agents found in bovine serum. There are several areas that can be identified that could lead to further improvement in cell culture systems. This includes the down-regulation of apoptosis to enable prolonged cell survival under potentially adverse conditions. The characterization of the critical parameters of glycosylation should enable process control to reduce the heterogeneity of glycoforms so that production processes are consistent. Further improvement may also be made by the identification of glycoforms with enhanced biological activity to enhance clinical efficacy. The ability to produce the ever-increasing number of biopharmaceuticals by animal cell culture is dependent on sufficient bioreactor capacity in the industry. A recent shortfall in available worldwide culture capacity has encouraged commercial activity in contract manufacturing operations. However, some analysts indicate that this still may not be enough and that future manufacturing demand may exceed production capacity as the number of approved biotherapeutics increases.