Student: I am a final year Engineering Doctorate (EngD) student in the department of Bio-chemical Engineering, UCL. Prior to enrolling on the EngD programme, I completed a MEng in Bio-chemical Engineering. Company: Onyvax is a small biotech company developing new cancer vaccine therapies that aim to harness the selective power of the immune system to seek out and destroy tumour cells. Their lead product targets prostate cancer and is currently undergoing phase IIb clinical trials.
Background: There is a need to develop a firm
foundation for the processing of large numbers of mammalian cells as a
consequence of a shift in the approach of human cell therapy away from
specialist medical procedures to possible wider therapeutic uses.
The objective of the research undertaken was to gain an understanding into the generic issues that impact on human cells if they are to be processed at specific scales in the context of a highly regulated environment.
The challenge: Mammalian cells respond to the stresses imparted upon them by the surrounding environment and hence the process and the product are inseparable. Therefore an understanding of the impact of the mechanical environment upon the physiological state of the cells and the subsequent implication upon the efficacy is essential if a reproducible efficacious product is going to be delivered to the market.
Issues that arose were: Two primary issues were tackled. Firstly, the ability to suitably characterise the cell lines and define what represented a “good” quality cell. Secondly, to minimise the expense associated with producing large volumes of material for experimental studies. This subsequently highlighted the need to drive the research towards utilising the advantages of ultra-scale down technology.
Result: An experimental protocol was developed
combining the rotating disc shear device (a small scale device) and an
array of analytical tools allowing the impact of the engineering
environment (shear) on the quality of cells to be qualitatively and
quantitatively assessed. This was used to evaluate two prostate
carcinoma cell lines.
Onyvax and UCL, in collaboration with additional partners (LGC and Nottingham Trent University) have subsequently been awarded a £1.8 million, 3 year DTI grant to further the research in this field. The aim is to refine and expand upon the use of scale down technology and the analytical powers available.
Page last modified on 20 nov 08 17:00