Evercyte and VTU team to develop animal-free cell growth media

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

The media will be made using VTU's yeast-based expression platform. Image: iStock/DipaliS
The media will be made using VTU's yeast-based expression platform. Image: iStock/DipaliS

Related tags Bacteria Biotechnology

Evercyte has teamed up with VTU Technology to develop cell culture media free from animal derived products, which the firm says is now essential for biomanufacturers.

The two Austrian biotechnology firms will work together to produce a range of recombinant media supplements using VTU’s yeast-based Pichia​ expression technology​ to be offered as medium additives for growth of cells for in vitro​ assays and biopharmaceutical production.

The agreement - of which financial details have not been divulged - will service the growing demand for defined media that are free of animal derived products or undefined components in such processes, according to Evercyte’s head of business development Eva Harreither.

For production of most biopharmaceuticals the use of xeno-free media is the standard and essential for regulatory acceptance,” ​she told Biopharma-Reporter.com, and “for research and development where complex cell culture systems such as primary cells or stem cells are used, animal derived serum is often used.

“This is part due to the fact that the requirements of these cells are often unknown.”

She added the products would be targeted for customers working complex cell cultures that require human, recombinant growth factors or cytokines for growth or differentiation, such as cell therapy and biologics manufacturers.

Such clients have traditionally used fetal bovine serum (FBS) which offers a high content of embryonic growth promoting factors and a low level of antibodies.

However, as a by-product of the dairy industry, FBS has raised concerns about the potential for transmitting bovine diseases. Furthermore, the serum is poorly characterised and suffers from problems surrounding the inconsistency of its supply.

Therefore a number of firms have looked to xeno-free media to address such issues, including Cook Regentec​, GE Healthcare​, and Worthing Biochemical​.

Yeast-based platform

The first product being launched by the joint venture is Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor 165 (VEGF 165), a growth factor for biological in vitro​ tests the firm says has a high physiological and clinical relevance.

Human VEGF 165 is produced by recombinant expression in the yeast Pichia pastoris, followed by a protein purification process,”​ Harreither said. “All of these steps are carried out at VTU. Evercyte is then responsible for testing the product performance and stability using a proliferation based assay using the HUVEC/TERT2 endothelial cell line.”

A spokeperson from VTU told this publication the use of the yeast Pichia pastoris​ combines advantages of prokaryotes - such as fast growth to high cell densities on inexpensive and chemically defined media - and eukaryotic features, which include a subcellular protein processing machinery needed for secretion and post-translation modification.

“These Pichia specific assets facilitate the efficient production of complex proteins - where E.coli fails - at high yields and high initial purities allowing a fundamental reduction in processing costs.”

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