Protein A chromatography is a critical and ‘gold-standard’ step in the purification of monoclonal antibody (mAb) products. Its ability to remove >98% of impurities in a single step alleviates the burden on subsequent process steps and facilitates the implementation of platform processes, with a minimal number of chromatographic steps. Here, we have evaluated four commercially available protein A chromatography matrices in terms of their ability to remove host cell proteins (HCPs), a complex group of process related impurities that must be removed to minimal levels. SELDI-TOF MS was used as a screening tool to generate an impurity profile fingerprint for each resin and indicated a number of residual impurities present following protein A chromatography, agreeing with HCP ELISA. Although many of these were observed for all matrices there was a significantly elevated level of impurity binding associated with the resin based on controlled pore glass under standard conditions. Use of null cell line supernatant with and without spiked purified mAb demonstrated the interaction of HCPs to be not only with the resin back-bone but also with the bound mAb. A null cell line column overload and sample enrichment method before 2D-PAGE was then used to determine individual components associated with resin back-bone adsorption. The methods shown allow for a critical analysis of HCP removal during protein A chromatography. Taken together they provide the necessary process understanding to allow process engineers to identify rational approaches for the removal of prominent HCPs. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 28: 1037–1044, 2012
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