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 Ltd. (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.”
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About Cobra Biologics www.cobrabio.com
Cobra Biologics is a leading international contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) providing biologics and pharmaceuticals for pre-clinical, clinical and commercial supply to an international customer base.
Each of Cobra’s GMP approved facilities are tailored to serving our customers around the world. We offer a broad range of integrated and stand-alone contract development and manufacturing services for clinical trials and the commercial market.
As a trusted provider and a key partner in the drug development and commercialisation process, we take pride in our manufacturing excellence and comprehensive range of services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
About University of Leeds www.leeds.ac.uk
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 33,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.
We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2019. Additionally, the University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its ‘consistently outstanding’ teaching and learning provision. Twenty-six of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships – more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – reflecting the excellence of our teaching.
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About BioProNET www.biopronetuk.org
BioProNET is a network that focuses on the use of cells and their components (that is, bioprocessing) to produce biologics, which we define as products that are composed of proteins (such as antibodies), peptides, RNA, DNA or vaccines.
Such biologics could be used as therapeutics, for example as biopharmaceuticals or as non-therapeutics, for example in diagnostics, industrial enzymes, for drug screening, and for crystallization and structural studies.
BioProNET’s objectives and goals are to:
· Provide leadership and vision to the UK academic and industrial community in the field of bioprocessing of biologics to usher in new collaborative models that accelerate innovation and deliver change.
· Facilitate the generation of collaborative and cross-disciplinary grant proposals and the subsequent award of major research funding from UK and international sources that ultimately generates outputs of direct benefit to the sector.
· Create an internationally recognised biologics community that is able to harness discoveries in the basic sciences for application to industrial bioprocesses and the supply chain that partners with complementary networks.
· Provide a vehicle for the delivery of proof of concept studies that lead to more competitive, collaborative, cross disciplinary and integrative funding proposals.
· Create an environment that promotes the emergence of new technologies, including synthetic biology, genomics and systems biology to allow for more rapid, flexible, predictable and cost-efficient production of biologics.
· Inspire and develop the next generation of scientists across the breath of disciplines encompassed by the network.
· Provide a mechanism for fostering community interactions and international collaboration allowing the rapid response to research challenges, policy changes, and large research calls.
· Open a route for academics to apply to industrially relevant challenges and consider the societal, environmental, economic and political ramifications of their work.