Cobra Biologics and the University of Leeds Collaborate on Viral Vector Bioprocessing

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A project funded by BioProNET will investigate optimization for bioprocessing of gene therapy vectors using hydrodynamic fluid flow fields.

Contract development and manufacturing organization Cobra Biologics and the University of Leeds have been awarded £100,000 (US$127,000) to investigate the effects of hydrodynamic force on the structure and biological integrity of viral-vector gene therapy products. This proof-of-concept grant is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) BioProNET, a network in the United Kingdom that brings together academics, industrialists, and others for collaborative research in the field of bioprocessing and biologics. 

The project between Cobra and David Brockwell, associate professor in School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Leeds, aims to develop a novel analytical tool for gene-therapy vector characterization using a device that generates a defined and controllable extensional hydrodynamic fluid flow field. This will be used to help optimize the conditions for the successful manufacture of viral vectors and to identify inherently stable viral vectors for gene therapy applications.

Brockwell, along with professors Nik Kapur and Sheena Radford, previously developed an extensional flow instrument to understand the deleterious effects of bioprocessing on therapeutic proteins such as antibodies. The aim of this collaborative partnership is to determine whether the device can be used to direct the development of gene-therapy viral vectors by helping to define flow parameters, optimize buffer solutions or design scaffolds, and as an analytical tool to differentiate between vectors with empty or full payloads.


“The instrument we’ve developed has the potential to make a significant contribution to the bioprocessing industry,” said Brockwell in an Oct. 30, 2018 press release. “By identifying and refining the conditions required for optimal production utilizing the manufacturing expertise at Cobra Biologics, we hope to be able to develop a timely and cost-effective solution for processing gene therapy vectors.”

Source: Cobra Biologics