Alternatives to standard chromatography for the purification of MAbs have been analyzed at the industrial scale. This article
discusses an alternative use of precipitation to remove cell culture broth impurities, including DNA and host cell protein,
while leaving the antibody in the supernatant. It evaluates several types of precipitation agents that are suitable for use
in the manufacture of a parenteral therapeutic agent. The applications of this technology at scale are also discussed.
Many current research initiatives are focused on finding alternatives to column chromatography for the purification of monoclonal
antibodies (MAbs). The industry-standard capture resin, Protein A, is expensive, has relatively low capacity compared to ion
exchange (IEX) resins, and does not tolerate cleaning agents, which limits the resin lifecycle. Attempts to develop alternative
capture resins have met with some success, but they generally do not offer the same platform potential as Protein A. An initial
purification step with the purification capability and generic nature of Protein A is required, but at lower cost and increased
In their recent review, Przybycien and colleagues discuss how other industrial applications have used processes without chromatography
for years because of the uniqueness of the target molecule.1 The paper classifies the alternative technologies into three distinct areas—bulk, field-based, and adsorptive separation—which
are categorized according to their industrial maturity versus resolution potential. Precipitation is described as a mature
technology with low resolution potential. However, MAbs have unique properties compared to other components of the broth,
which could result in more selective precipitation.
This article will discuss an alternative use of precipitation to remove cell culture broth impurities, including DNA and host
cell protein (HCP), while leaving the antibody in the supernatant. It will also present the results of recent experiments
determining the efficacy of potential precipitants in impurity removal, and discuss the applications of this technology at
Precipitation of DNA and Protein—Other Applications
A comprehensive search of the literature reveals that precipitants have been used extensively in other industrial applications,
and some of these could potentially be adapted for MAb purification. The precipitants fall into two categories—those used
to purify DNA and proteins, and those used as a precipitating agent to purify antibodies, which could be optimized to remove
impurities while leaving the antibody in the solution.
Several precipitants described in the literature are used to purify DNA in aqueous solutions. These include, but are not limited
to, indium chloride, polyaluminum chloride, manganese chloride, and zinc.2–5 In addition, several groups have reported on the use of polyamines, such as spermine and spermidine, for DNA precipitation.6,7 While these techniques are appropriate for precipitation at the laboratory scale as research techniques, they are not suitable
for various reasons for industrial-scale manufacture.
There are, however, precipitants referenced in the literature that could be adapted for use in therapeutic MAb manufacture.
One such class of compounds is charged polymers, such as polyethyl-eneimine (PEI) and polyacrylic acid (PAA), which have proven
effective in precipitating both proteins and nucleic acids because of the interaction between the charges on the proteins
and the polymers, creating an insoluble complex.8 The use of PEI for the precipitation of nucleic acids has been studied in detail by Cordes and colleagues and by Dissing
In addition to charged polymers, cationic detergents such as cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) and domiphen bromide (DB)
have been used to precipitate cellular DNA.11,12 Goerke and colleagues were able to demonstrate the use of DB as a DNA precipitant in the purification of adenovirus.12
Persson, et al., used 6,9-diamino-2-ethoxyacridine lactate (ethacridine or ethodin) as a precipitant for both DNA and HCP
from an Escherichia coli homogenate containing antibody fragments.13 The use of ethacridine (a highly aromatic, cationic dye used as an antiseptic) as a precipitant in antibody purification
was first demonstrated by Horejsi and colleagues in 1956.14