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Filter preconditioning enables representative scaled-down modelling of filter capacity and viral clearance by mitigating the impact of virus spike impurities


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Endogenous and adventitious virus removal by size-exclusion membrane filtration is a critical dedicated step in an overall viral clearance strategy employed by biologics manufacturers as required by industry regulators. However, the addition of impurities from virus spike preparations used in validation studies can significantly reduce filter capacity, resulting in an oversized and suboptimal virus filtration step. The hydraulic filter performance and virus retention observed in conventional scaled-downed validation models may not necessarily represent performance observed during process development, nor be predictive of manufacturing performance. Using filter flow decay as a relevant processing endpoint, an alternative and more comprehensive approach to virus filter validation has been developed to overcome the limitations imposed by virus spike impurities. With a model feedstream, we have demonstrated comparable virus removal using the conventional virus spiking approach and a complementary preconditioned virus challenge. Similar to a currently accepted method used in the validation of sterilizing-grade filters, this method entails processing non-spiked feed to a volumetric throughput target, followed by processing virus-spiked feed to a final flow decay endpoint to determine viral clearance. This comprehensive approach yields predictive virus retention data under protein-dominant fouling conditions that better model the hydraulic performance of the manufacturing-scale virus filtration operation.