KEELE and MANCHESTER, U.K.—Cobra Biologics, international CDMO of biologics and pharmaceuticals, and The University of Manchester have been awarded collaborative funding of £217K (about $336K) as one of only 23 projects which will share almost £20M (about $31M) from the Innovate UK / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supported Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst.
The joint project, PeriTune, is to develop a protein expression optimization platform for the robust production of biologics. This platform will enable key bottlenecks and manufacturability challenges of recombinant proteins used in both biopharmaceutical medicines and industrial biotechnology to be addressed.
The platform will utilize the tuneable gene expression control technology RiboTite, developed at The University of Manchester, coupled with the expertise in bioprocessing scale up at Cobra Biologics. The RiboTite technology operates at the level of translation initiation and permits cellular-level tuneable control of gene expression. Here, uniquely, this capability will be used to match expression to the periplasmic secretion capabilities of E. coli production cells. At high levels of recombinant protein overexpression the secretion pathways can become overloaded, affecting product titres and cell viability. Clones developed through the optimization platform at The University of Manchester will be validated, demonstrated at scale, and assessed for manufacturability within Cobra Biologics.
The PeriTune project will allow Cobra Biologics to investigate the use of the RiboTite technology in controlling levels of secreted protein production in E.coli, and also the manufacturing robustness of the system during fermentation scale up.
“We are looking forward to collaborating closely with Dr. Neil Dixon, his team at the University of Manchester, and their innovative RiboTite technology,” stated Dr. Daniel Smith, CSO at Cobra Biologics. “This is a very exciting project for Cobra, as it has the potential to expand our current microbial production toolbox, providing alternative routes for controlling protein expression for a wide range of potential new protein-based therapeutics.”
Dr. Neil Dixon, The University of Manchester, commented: “We are very pleased that this funding will enable us to collaborate with Cobra Biologics and support the on-going translation of our research into industry. We believe the technology platform could make a significant impact on issues involved in the production of biopharmaceutical medicines and other industrial biotechnology products, which in turn would reduce manufacturing costs and enable de-risking of early product development projects.”
Cobra Biologics is a leading international contract manufacturing organisation of biologics and pharmaceuticals for clinical and commercial supply. Cobra has three GMP-approved facilities, each with expertise tailored to serving customers around the world. The company offers a broad range of integrated and stand-alone contract services, stretching from cell line and process development through to fill and finish for the supply of products for clinical trials and the commercial market.
Cobra supplies manufacturing solutions to the pharmaceutical industry covering antibodies, recombinant proteins, viruses, phage, DNA, whole cell vaccines and therapeutics as well as biologics and small molecule API lyophilization and fill finish.
Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board—the U.K.’s innovation agency. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programs to accelerate sustainable economic growth.
Catalysts are run jointly by Innovate UK and the Research Councils. A Catalyst is a form of research and development funding which focuses on a specific priority area and aims to help take projects from research to as close to commercial viability as possible. The Catalyst model supports projects in priority areas where the U.K. research base has a leading position and where there is clear commercial potential. Current Catalysts include: Biomedical Catalyst, Agri-tech Catalyst and the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the U.K. public. The organization’s aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the U.K. and beyond. Funded by government, and with an annual budget of around £484M (2013-2014), the BBSRC supports research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. Research areas include food security, green energy and industries, and living healthier, longer lives. The group’s investments underpin important U.K. economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.