Retrovirus and lentivirus vectors are used as molecular delivery vehicles, transporting therapeutic genes into target cells but according to UK-based biopharma services firm Oxford Genetics the issues surrounding the scalability of these viruses make production laborious and costly.
“The biggest challenge is that production today is based on transient transfection of the vector into the cell line,” CEO and founder Ryan Cawood told Biopharma-Reporter.
“This is a laborious, inefficient process that results in low production titres and so does not translate well to scale up. The consequence is that it then becomes exceedingly difficult to produce enough material for clinical trials, and the cost is prohibitive for production.”
As such, the firm has been awarded a $1m grant from Innovate UK to develop new cell lines to make production more scalable in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
“The timescale on this project is 12 months, with the end goal being the creation of stable packaging cell lines for virus production, which overcome the problems associated with transient transfected cell lines,” Cawood continued, adding the firm would look to license out the new cell lines to gene therapy developers.
Work on the project will be undertaken at a new facility at the Oxford Science Park which the company acquired and moved into in mid-October.
The company is not alone in looking at cheaper, more efficient ways to produce viral vectors. Earlier this year, gene expression firm Sympronics teamed with the UK's Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult to develop a viral vector production platform based on its artificial DNA sequencing technology.