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  1. Abstract

    Adeno‐associated viruses (AAVs) have acquired a central role in modern medicine as delivery agents for gene therapies targeting rare diseases. While new AAVs with improved tissue targeting, potency, and safety are being introduced, their biomanufacturing technology is lagging. In particular, the AAV purification pipeline hinges on protein ligands for the affinity‐based capture step. While featuring excellent AAV binding capacity and selectivity, these ligands require strong acid (pH <3) elution conditions, which can compromise the product's activity and stability. Additionally, their high cost and limited lifetime has a significant impact on the price tag of AAV‐based therapies. Seeking to introduce a more robust and affordable affinity technology, this study introduces a cohort of peptide ligands that (i) mimic the biorecognition activity of the AAV receptor (AAVR) and anti‐AAV antibody A20, (ii) enable product elution under near‐physiological conditions (pH 6.0), and (iii) grant extended reusability by withstanding multiple regenerations. A20‐mimetic CYIHFSGYTNYNPSLKSC and AAVR‐mimetic CVIDGSQSTDDDKIC demonstrated excellent capture of serotypes belonging to distinct clones/clades – namely, AAV1, AAV2, AAV5, AAV6, AAV8, and AAV9. This corroborates the in silico models documenting their ability to target regions of the viral capsid that are conserved across all serotypes. CVIDGSQSTDDDKIC‐Toyopearl resin features binding capacity (≈1014vp mL−1) and product yields (≈60%–80%) on par with commercial adsorbents, and purifies AAV2 from HEK293 and Sf9 cell lysates with high recovery (up to 78%), reduction of host cell proteins (up to 700‐fold), and high transduction activity (up to 65%).

     
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  2. Abstract

    The use of benign stimuli to control the binding and release of labile biologics for their isolation from complex feedstocks is a key goal of modern biopharmaceutical technology. This study introduces cyclic azobenzene‐peptide (CAP) ligands for the rapid and discrete photo‐responsive capture and release of blood coagulation factor VIII (FVIII). A predictive method—based on amino acid sequence and molecular architecture of CAPs—is developed to correlate the conformation ofcis/trans‐CAP photo‐isomers to FVIII binding and release. Combined in silico ‐ in vitro analysis of FVIII:peptide interactions guide the design of a rational approach to optimize isomerization kinetics and biorecognition of CAPs. A photoaffinity adsorbent, prepared by conjugating selected CAP G‐cycloAZOB[Lys‐YYKHLYN‐Lys]‐G on translucent chromatographic beads, features high binding capacity (>6 mg of FVIII per mL of resin) and rapid photo‐isomerization kinetics (τ < 30 s) when exposed to 420–450 nm light at the intensity of 0.1 W cm−2. The adsorbent purifies FVIII from a recombinant harvest using a single mobile phase, affording high product yield (>90%), purity (>95%), and blood clotting activity. The CAPs introduced in this report demonstrate a novel route integrating gentle operational conditions in a rapid and efficient bioprocess for the purification of life‐saving biotherapeutics.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Photo‐affinity adsorbents (i.e., translucent matrices functionalized with ligands featuring light‐controlled biorecognition) represent a futuristic technology for purifying labile biologics. In this study, a framework for prototyping photo‐affinity adsorbents comprising azobenzene‐cyclized peptides (ACPs) conjugated to translucent porous beads (ChemMatrix) is presented. This approach combines computational and experimental tools for designing ACPs and investigating their light‐controlled isomerization kinetics and protein biorecognition. First, a modular design for tailoring ACP's conformation, facilitating sequencing, and streamlining the in silico modeling of cis/trans isomers and their differential protein binding is introduced. Then, a spectroscopic system for measuring the photo‐isomerization kinetics of ACPs on ChemMatrix beads is reported; using this device, it is demonstrated that the isomerization at different light intensities is correlated to the cyclization geometry, specifically the energy difference of trans versus cis isomers as calculated in silico. Also, a microfluidic device for sorting ACP‐ChemMatrix beads to select and validate photo‐affinity ligands using Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule 1 (VCAM‐1) as target protein and cycloAZOB[GVHAKQHRN‐K*]‐G‐ChemMatrix as model photo‐affinity adsorbent is presented. The proposed ACPs exhibit rapid and defined light‐controlled isomerization and biorecognition. Controlling the adsorption and release of VCAM‐1 using light demonstrates the potential of photo‐affinity adsorbents for targets whose biochemical liability poses challenges to its purification.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The ability to rapidly and accurately evaluate bioactive compounds immobilized on porous particles is crucial in the discovery of drugs, diagnostic reagents, ligands, and catalysts. Existing options for solid phase screening of bioactive compounds, while highly effective and well established, can be cost-prohibitive for proof-of-concept and early stage work, limiting its applicability and flexibility in new research areas. Here, we present a low-cost microfluidics-based platform enabling automated screening of small porous beads from solid-phase peptide libraries with high sensitivity and specificity, to identify leads with high binding affinity for a biological target. The integration of unbiased computer assisted image processing and analysis tools, provided the platform with the flexibility of sorting through beads with distinct fluorescence patterns. The customized design of the microfluidic device helped with handling beads with different diameters (~100–300 µm). As a microfluidic device, this portable novel platform can be integrated with a variety of analytical instruments to perform screening. In this study, the system utilizes fluorescence microscopy and unsupervised image analysis, and can operate at a sorting speed of up to 125 beads/hr (~3.5 times faster than a trained operator) providing >90% yield and >90% bead sorting accuracy. Notably, the device has proven successful in screening a model solid-phase peptide library by showing the ability to select beads carrying peptides binding a target protein (human IgG).

     
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  5. The recent uptick in the approval of ex vivo cell therapies highlights the relevance of lentivirus (LV) as an enabling viral vector of modern medicine. As labile biologics, however, LVs pose critical challenges to industrial biomanufacturing. In particular, LV purification—currently reliant on filtration and anion-exchange or size-exclusion chromatography—suffers from long process times and low yield of transducing particles, which translate into high waiting time and cost to patients. Seeking to improve LV downstream processing, this study introduces peptides targeting the enveloped protein Vesicular stomatitis virus G (VSV-G) to serve as affinity ligands for the chromatographic purification of LV particles. An ensemble of candidate ligands was initially discovered by implementing a dual-fluorescence screening technology and a targeted in silico approach designed to identify sequences with high selectivity and tunable affinity. The selected peptides were conjugated on Poros resin and their LV binding-and-release performance was optimized by adjusting the flow rate, composition, and pH of the chromatographic buffers. Ligands GKEAAFAA and SRAFVGDADRD were selected for their high product yield (50%–60% of viral genomes; 40%–50% of HT1080 cell-transducing particles) upon elution in PIPES buffer with 0.65 M NaCl at pH 7.4. The peptide-based adsorbents also presented remarkable values of binding capacity (up to 3·109 TU per mL of resin, or 5·1011 vp per mL of resin, at the residence time of 1 min) and clearance of host cell proteins (up to a 220-fold reduction of HEK293 HCPs). Additionally, GKEAAFAA demonstrated high resistance to caustic cleaning-in-place (0.5 M NaOH, 30 min) with no observable loss in product yield and quality. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 10, 2024
  6. Viral vectors are poised to acquire a prominent position in modern medicine and biotechnology owing to their role as delivery agents for gene therapies, oncolytic agents, vaccine platforms, and a gateway to engineer cell therapies as well as plants and animals for sustainable agriculture. The success of viral vectors will critically depend on the availability of flexible and affordable biomanufacturing strategies that can meet the growing demand by clinics and biotech companies worldwide. In this context, a key role will be played by downstream process technology: while initially adapted from protein purification media, the purification toolbox for viral vectors is currently undergoing a rapid expansion to fit the unique biomolecular characteristics of these products. Innovation efforts are articulated on two fronts, namely (i) the discovery of affinity ligands that target adeno-associated virus, lentivirus, adenovirus, etc.; (ii) the development of adsorbents with innovative morphologies, such as membranes and 3D printed monoliths, that fit the size of viral vectors. Complementing these efforts are the design of novel process layouts that capitalize on novel ligands and adsorbents to ensure high yield and purity of the product while safeguarding its therapeutic efficacy and safety; and a growing panel of analytical methods that monitor the complex array of critical quality attributes of viral vectors and correlate them to the purification strategies. To help explore this complex and evolving environment, this study presents a comprehensive overview of the downstream bioprocess toolbox for viral vectors established in the last decade, and discusses present efforts and future directions contributing to the success of this promising class of biological medicines. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
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    While antibodies remain established therapeutic and diagnostic tools, other protein scaffolds are emerging as effective and safer alternatives. Affibodies in particular are a new class of small proteins marketed as bio-analytic reagents. They feature tailorable binding affinity, low immunogenicity, high tissue permeation, and high expression titer in bacterial hosts. This work presents the development of affibody-binding peptides to be utilized as ligands for their purification from bacterial lysates. Affibody-binding candidates were identified by screening a peptide library simultaneously against two model affibodies (anti-immunoglobulin G (IgG) and anti-albumin) with the aim of selecting peptides targeting the conserved domain of affibodies. An ensemble of homologous sequences identified from screening was synthesized on Toyopearl® resin and evaluated via binding studies to select sequences that afford high product binding and recovery. The affibody–peptide interaction was also evaluated by in silico docking, which corroborated the targeting of the conserved domain. Ligand IGKQRI was validated through purification of an anti-ErbB2 affibody from an Escherichia coli lysate. The values of binding capacity (~5 mg affibody per mL of resin), affinity (KD ~1 μM), recovery and purity (64–71% and 86–91%), and resin lifetime (100 cycles) demonstrate that IGKQRI can be employed as ligand in affibody purification processes. 
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