Last year, France’s Provence Technologies acquired Synprosis, an API maker specialising in long-chain peptide synthesis through its peptide ligation technology.
The division has since been renamed Provepep and has announced this week that it has successfully chemically synthesized a bioactive homodimer form of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, paving the way for chemical synthesis as an alternative to recombinant technology.
“Multiple interests can rise from the chemical synthesis of polypeptides and proteins,” Jean-Pierre Salles, the firm’s CSO told in-Pharmatechnologist. “Sequences can be chemically modified with the insertion of unnatural amino acids – for instance D amino acid. Such possibilities can provide new characteristics to proteins.”
Benefits of chemically synthesizing these products rather than using cell-lines include greater access to purer products and the ability to generate reproducible results, but the major bonus is the cost saving potential, Salles said.
“Investment costs can be reduced by up to 90% compared to bioproduction. It takes between 100 and 200 million US Dollars to implement a biomanufacturing facility, whereas a chemical unit costs between 15 and 20 million dollars.”
This is because direct production costs in bioproduction are very much influenced by the downstream process, he said, specifically the isolation and purification steps.
“In the case of chemical synthesis, these are significantly simplified.” Furthermore, “chemical synthesis does not have the same constraints as bioproduction in terms of viral safety.”
The firm achieved the synthesis of IL-10 using its SEA ligation platform: a native chemical ligation which joins a bis(2-sulfanylethyl)amino peptide with a cysteinyl or hoocysteinyl peptide, giving access to proteins.
The SEA technology currently applies to non-glycosylated proteins with length ranging from 150 to 350 mer.