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Reduction of product-related species during the fermentation and purification of a recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist at the laboratory and pilot scale



Through a parallel approach of tracking product quality through fermentation and purification development, a robust process was designed to reduce the levels of product-related species. Three biochemically similar product-related species were identified as byproducts of host-cell enzymatic activity. To modulate intracellular proteolytic activity, key fermentation parameters (temperature, pH, trace metals, EDTA levels, and carbon source) were evaluated through bioreactor optimization, while balancing negative effects on growth, productivity, and oxygen demand. The purification process was based on three non-affinity steps and resolved product-related species by exploiting small charge differences. Using statistical design of experiments for elution conditions, a high-resolution cation exchange capture column was optimized for resolution and recovery. Further reduction of product-related species was achieved by evaluating a matrix of conditions for a ceramic hydroxyapatite column. The optimized fermentation process was transferred from the 2-L laboratory scale to the 100-L pilot scale and the purification process was scaled accordingly to process the fermentation harvest. The laboratory- and pilot-scale processes resulted in similar process recoveries of 60 and 65%, respectively, and in a product that was of equal quality and purity to that of small-scale development preparations. The parallel approach for up- and downstream development was paramount in achieving a robust and scalable clinical process.