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Process and economic evaluation for monoclonal antibody purification using a membrane-only process



In recent years, the market for therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAb) has grown exponentially, and with this there has been a desire to reduce the costs associated with production and purification of these high-value biological products. A typical mAb purification process involves three adsorption/chromatography steps [protein A, ion exchange (IEX), and hydrophobic interaction (HIC)], along with ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and microfiltration. With the development of membrane adsorption/chromatography as a viable alternative to traditional pack bed systems, the opportunity exists to complete the entire downstream purification process using only membrane operations. In this study, the process simulation tool SuperPro Designer was used to evaluate the application of recently developed ultra-high capacity electrospun nanofibrous adsorption membranes as a replacement for conventional chromatographic media in the downstream mAb production process. The simulation showed that nanofibrous adsorption membranes in place of the three packed bed chromatography steps reduced the required volume of protein A, IEX, and HIC adsorptive medium by 25, 80, and 80%, respectively. In addition, the membrane-only process reduced the downstream processing time by 50%, decreased the number of labor hours associated with the purification steps by 40%, generated 40% less aqueous waste, and reduced the overall downstream process operating expenses per unit product by 23%. There were also significant savings in facility construction costs and the price of fixed equipment required for separations. With these savings not only is the membrane-only process economically competitive with the traditional packed bed operations, but it offers the possibility of moving toward more disposable process.© 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011