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Dispatches from BPI 2015

CRISPR mediated cell line improvements a tech challenge, Thermo

Dan Stanton

By Dan Stanton+

14-Apr-2015
Last updated on 14-Apr-2015 at 13:43 GMT2015-04-14T13:43:41Z

Better cell lines demand downstream improvements
Better cell lines demand downstream improvements

Biopharma firms must improve processes and technologies to control costs according Thermo Fisher which says the higher yields possible with CRISPR engineered cell lines are a challenge for industry.

Stephen Gorfien, Sr Director of BioProduction R&D at Thermo Fisher Scientific, made the comments at the BioProcess International European Summit in Dusseldorf, Germany today, telling delegates improved cell lines and media are helping biopharmas achieve "higher levels of productivity" and driving demand for better downstream technologies.

He cited a collaboration with the University of Georgia and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an example, explaining that the research team has managed a 30-fold increase in polio virus production yields by modifying cell lines using the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene editing technology.

The Gates Foundation Funded project is intended to reduce the cost of producing polio vaccine, however, boosting production yields is only part of the process according to Gorfien, who said other advancements in bioprocessing would be necessary to increase productivity and lower costs. These include more efficient and smaller volumes of media and feed, state of the art assays, higher flow rates in purification, and increased partnerships to supplement internal expertise and accelerate development.

Thermo is now looking to move forward with backing from industry partnerships to validate these engineered cell lines and expand applications.

There has been a flurry of interest in CRISPR technology over the past year, with companies including AstraZeneca, Novartis, Horizon and GE Healthcare investing in the sector.

Just last month, Thermo Fisher itself licensed the CRISPR/Cas9 IP from Korean biotech firm ToolGen.

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