Ingredient for cultural success

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A new cell culture ingredient developed by Kyowa Hakko improves
antibody production in mammalian cell culture by as much as 66 per

Japan's Kyowa Hakko has developed a nutrient for mammalian cell culture that promises to provide a dramatic hike in the production of antibodies, both in the laboratory and at full production scale.

The ingredient is based on coenzyme Q10 (ubidecarenone), which acts as an essential part of the respiratory pathway in mammalian cells leading to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-rich compound used to power cellular processes.

CoQ10 is popularly used as a dietary supplement, with the rationale that boosting intake of the nutrient could support cellular metabolism, particularly in cells with energy deficiencies. It has been tested in diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease with encouraging early results, albeit in early-stage clinical trials. It is also approved in Japan as a prescription drug for the treatment for heart failure.

In the cell culture setting, earlier studies have shown that adding coQ10 into growth media promotes the growth of a number of cell lines, including HeLa, murine fibroblast and bovine embryo cells. However, coQ10 is notoriously hard to absorb by cells as it is so insoluble in water.

Kyowa​ has got around this hurdle by designing a nanoparticle formulation of the compound, based on a liquid-in-liquid dispersion with a very small particle size (less than 50 nanometres). Preliminary results with the product - called Q-Media - indicate that it is easily and directly absorbed into cells.

The company has conducted some experiments specifically to gauge how effective Q-Media is when added to cell cultures used to produce antibodies, and reports productivity increases of a third to two thirds.

For example, addition of Q-Media to a YB2/0 cells growing in Invitrogen's Hybridoma SFM medium yielded a 66 per cent increase in the antibody production rate. 30 per cent increases were also seen with CHO cells growing in JRH Biosciences' EX-CELL 302 and NS0 cells in Invitrogen's RPMI 1640.

The use of mammalian cell culture to produce drugs is widespread, but can be an expensive process. The media used to grow cell lines is costly, and companies are always looking for ways to improve the productivity of cells grown within it, for example by modifying temperature or adding ingredients or growth factors such as n-butyric acids, iron citrate or ethanolamine.

Improving productivity can also lead to a dramatic reduction in the timescales for brining an antibody-based drug through to the market. At present, it can often take several months just to generate enough material to conduct clinical trials and, once approval is granted and the process goes to a commercial scale, cell line productivity becomes even more important .

Kyowa's Q-Media ingredient could be one way of boosting productivity in a cost-effective manner, according to the company. A spokesman said that the company can currently supply samples of Q-Media for evaluation, with commercial launch of the product expected to occur shortly.

For more information on the Q-Media product, contact Chikao Urata​ at Kyowa Hakko Europe.

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