The new cell line – known as FUT8 CHO DG44 - lacks the gene for the enzyme fucosyltrasferase which is responsible for incorporating units of the sugar fucose into the ‘backbones’ of antibodies.
Antibodies with low fucose content are better able to interact with immune cells and are therefore more potent therapeutic agents than antibodies that contain higher amounts of the sugar.
Similar technologies have been developed by Lonza – whose GS Xceed expression system uses a cell line that lacks fucosyltrasferase – and ProBiogen – whose GlymaxX technology uses an enzyme to redirect molecules otherwise destined to be turned into fucose.
Under the new collaboration, Aragen will offer protein expression and cell line development services while Transposagen will provide custom gene editing capabilities to drugmakers that want to insert genes into the CHO DG44 line or further tweak the new cell line.
The Transposagen service will be based on its piggyback DNA modification system that has already been adopted by a number of Big Pharma partners, including Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Janssen unit, to develop CAR-T cancer therapies.
Initially, the cell line will be aimed at early development projects, however, Aragen and Transposagen plant to launch a version suitable for commercial-scale, good manufacturing practices (GMP) compliant monoclonal antibody (mAb) production.