The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) and GE Healthcare have formed a cell line engineering research collaboration that aims to increase the productivity of biomanufacturers. This three-year partnership will explore and identify new tools and methods to modify and optimize the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line performance.

Cell lines are key components in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. They affect product yield and quality. CHO cell lines are the most commonly used hosts for industrial production of therapeutic proteins. These cell lines, however, have not been fully optimized because of the limited technical means and stringent regulatory requirements. The industry often finds the most optimal production cell clone for their product by trial and error, using sub-optimal starter cell lines, which is time consuming. But with advances in gene editing and analytical tools, it is now possible to explore how cells behave and respond to different process conditions, which then can be used to improve starter cell lines accordingly.

“With the new analytical tools that genome sequence information along with different –omics technologies (such as transcriptomics) provide, we begin to understand precisely how cellular performance is regulated and how it works in detail. What we are aiming for in this collaboration is to develop the ability to manipulate cell behavior in an efficient way, such that we can design, define and control these properties and adapt them to whatever is best suited for a given product,” commented Professor Nicole Borth of BOKU University, area leader at acib who is in charge of the project, in a press statement.

The objectives of this GE Healthcare and acib collaboration include reducing the need for clone screening, developing suitable tools for cell line engineering, and gaining knowledge about cellular mechanisms that determine cell line efficiency. The first phase will focus on basic research in this field, but the long-term goal is to create a pre-engineered host cell line library, where biopharma producers could choose the most suitable cell line to use in the production of any specific biopharmaceutical to ensure higher productivity with increased speed and final product quality.

“While the biopharma industry is growing quickly, lack of access to biologic drugs is commonplace in many countries partly due to the complex and time-consuming production methods. Cell line engineering could help us bring major productivity improvements for our customers, making it more feasible to bring biologic manufacturing to more regions. Acib has already conducted some remarkable research in this field, and we believe that this collaboration will increase our understanding of cellular behavior, eventually creating more predictable and reliable manufacturing processes for our customers, biopharma producers”, said Morgan Norris, general manager, Upstream and Cell Culture, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, in the press release.

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