McMaster, Sartorius Stedim Biotech team up to advance biomanufacturing processes with next-gen tech

23 August 2021 | Monday | News

Sartorius Stedim Biotech, a leading international partner of the biopharmaceutical industry, has entered into a partnership with McMaster University to improve manufacturing processes of antibody and virus based treatments for diseases such as COVID-19, cancers, and genetic disorders.

Using a state-of-the-art multi-column chromatography system provided by Sartorius Stedim Biotech, the  McMaster team will “perfect” a process for the purification of therapeutic viruses that is more effective and  cheaper than those currently available. This will pave the way for new and more affordable treatments to  reach patients with a variety of needs. “Teaming up with Sartorius Stedim Biotech is an exciting opportunity  for McMaster Engineering. This research will push the envelope in leading advanced, cutting-edge  research in bio-manufacturing,” says John Preston, associate dean, research, innovation and external  relations in the Faculty of Engineering. “Establishing industry-friendly, collaborative environments is critical  in solving real-world problems.” 

This work aims to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out by the United Nations,  designed to give our people and planet a better future. More effective bio-manufacturing can make  advanced biotherapeutics cost-effective and available to more people globally. “This partnership with  McMaster University will lead to impactful research that will make important treatments available at a  greater scale. We see this as a way to expand our research development and bring SDG-aligned  pharmaceuticals to Canadian and global markets,” says Brandon Corbett, research scientist at Sartorius  Stedim Biotech. 

David Latulippe, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, and Prashant Mhaskar, professor of  Chemical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Nonlinear and Fault-Tolerant Control, are leading  this project with Sartorius Stedim Biotech. The collaboration will initially run for four years. 

What is chromatography?  

Chromatography is an essential purification technology in biomanufacturing. To produce biotherapeutics,  scientists use a bioreactor with specialized cell lines and customized growth media. Next, the  biotherapeutic must go through a series of purification steps, often with duplicate steps to satisfy the  requirements of regulatory bodies.  

Sartorius Stedim Biotechs’ multi-column chromatography system uses parallel processing strategies to  make the process more resource and cost-efficient. “Our ultimate goal is to perfect the downstream  chromatography process by combining detailed experimental work with advanced process modelling 


concepts,” says Latulippe. “This way, we can control the outcome and fix the processes on site, as  production is happening, so everything is always ‘on spec’.” Currently, monoclonal antibodies are the  leading biotherapeutic being used to fight against COVID-19. 

Training the next generation  

As part of the partnership, Sartorius Stedim Biotech will provide student training opportunities at their  research and development facilities in North America and Europe. Ian Gough, a graduate of McMaster’s  Chemical and Bioengineering program, has already started working on this project. Gough is a former  member of the Summer Studentship Internship program from BioCanRx, a Networks of Centres of  Excellence program. Claire Velikonja, a recent chemical engineering graduate from the University of  Toronto, will join the team in September. 

Both Gough and Velikonja received a Canada Graduate Scholarship from Natural Sciences and  Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to provide additional support for their first year of  graduate studies.

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