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Cobra Biologics and the University of Leeds Collaborate in BioProNET Funded Project

£100K grant will fund proof-of-concept studies to optimise bioprocessing of gene therapy vectors using hydrodynamic fluid flow fields.

Keele and Leeds, UK, 30 October 2018: Cobra Biologics (Cobra), an international CDMO for biologics and pharmaceuticals, and the University of Leeds have been awarded £100,000 to investigate the effects of hydrodynamic force on the structure and biological integrity of viral vector gene therapy products. This proof-of-concept grant is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) BioProNET, a network that brings together academics, industrialists and others for collaborative research in the field of bioprocessing and biologics. The project between Cobra and Dr David Brockwell at the University of Leeds aims to develop a novel analytical tool for gene therapy vector characterisation using a device that generates a defined and controllable extensional hydrodynamic fluid flow field. This will be used to help optimise the conditions for the successful manufacture of viral vectors and to identify inherently stable viral vectors for gene therapy applications.

Dr Brockwell, along with Professors Nik Kapur and Sheena Radford previously developed an extensional flow instrument to understand the deleterious effects of bioprocessing on therapeutic proteins such as antibodies. The aim of this collaborative partnership is to determine whether the device can be used to direct the development of gene therapy viral vectors by helping to define flow parameters, optimise buffer solutions or design scaffolds, and as an analytical tool to differentiate between vectors with empty or full payloads.

Gene therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in remedying protein function across a number of diseases. The dramatic clinical improvements seen with these products have led to a need to rapidly accelerate clinical development programmes, resulting in minimal time between clinical development phases and commercial licencing. This in turn has highlighted the need for improvement in manufacturing processes.

The BioProNET funded project aims to address these bioprocessing industry challenges.

Peter Coleman, CEO Cobra Biologics commented: “This collaboration with the University of Leeds highlights Cobra’s desire to innovate alongside leading academics and further develop its manufacturing and analytical platforms for the production of gene therapy vectors. We are always striving to improve upon the technical solutions we offer to reduce time and cost to the clinic for our customers.”

Dr David Brockwell, Associate Professor, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Leeds said: “The instrument we’ve developed has the potential to make a significant contribution to the bioprocessing industry. By identifying and refining the conditions required for optimal production utilising the manufacturing expertise at Cobra Biologics, we hope to be able to develop a timely and cost-effective solution for processing gene therapy vectors.”