SAFC cell line tech CHOZN by Chinese cancer drug firm BeiGene

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

BeiGene opts for zinc finger based CHO cell line development tech
BeiGene opts for zinc finger based CHO cell line development tech

Related tags Cell line Biotechnology Dna

Chinese cancer drug developer BeiGene will create production cell lines using a platform developed by Sigma Aldrich's custom manufacturing services business.

Beijing-based BeiGene will access SAFC’s CHOZN cell line platform through a contract signed this week, with the primary focus being development of production cell lines for its candidate cancer monoclonal antibodies (mAb) and protein therapeutics.

BeiGene head of biologics Kang Li said: “The CHOZN Platform offers us a great deal of value through the ability to maximize the production of monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant-proteins used in our targeted oncology treatments​.”

Li added: “Reducing timelines are critical to every oncology development project. Our objective in selecting SAFC’s CHOZN Platform and services was to shorten bioproduction times in early development and to obtain a manufacturing clone quickly with the highest protein quality specifications​.”

Tech of choize

The CHOZN platform – which is designed to maximize the production of monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant proteins – uses SAFC’s zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) gene editing technology and the glutamine synthetase CHO cell line launched in 2011​.

The cell line technology was launched a few years later​ and according to SAFC is already being used by more than 20 customers in the US and Europe, contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) Gallus Biopharmaceutical being one example​.

BeiGene is one of only a few Asian companies to be using CHOZN for cell line development – only two contracts​ have been announced to date – however, demand is increasing according to SAFC product manager Kevin Gutshall.

Following last year’s first commercial placement of the GSCHO cell line in the Asian markets, SAFC is seeing significant interest in using our CHOZN recombinant cell line development platforms in the region​,” he said.


SAFC has been pushing its ZFN gene knockout technology since 2007​ when it licensed exclusive rights to develop zinc-finger binding proteins from Sangamo Biosciences in a $35m (€32m) deal.

Last year​, for example, the firm told us industry interest in ZFN was increasing as the technology provides a way of making proteins that meet with regulatory quality requirements, particularly those relating to biosimilars.

In recent months​, however, it is the CRISPR gene editing technology that has been the focus of attention with some observers suggesting drugmakers view the ability to knock in (insert) as well as knock out genes as more attractive.

AstraZeneca​ and Novartis​ both recently invested in CRISPR, as has services firm Horizon Discovery​ and technology developer GE Healthcare.

Related topics Bio Developments Cell lines

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