Formulation challenges for traditional and next generation biopharmaceuticals

Posted on: 19/07/2018

Biopharmaceutical formulation experts from academia and industry came together at the BFG conference.

Manchester’s Centre of Excellence in Biopharmaceuticals (COEBP) kindly hosted the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)’s Biopharmaceutical Formulation Group (BFG) conference held at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. Biopharmaceutical formulation experts from academia and industry came together to network, discuss industrial challenges, and to find out about the latest formulation R&D.

The director of COEBP, Professor Alan Dickson, opened the meeting, and Marcel Kuiper from KTN gave an overview of KTN’s role in the innovation landscape. Marcel went on to explain how KTN works with companies to support their business growth through Innovate UK funding competitions.

Jan Jezek (Arecor, Cambridge) presented an overview of formulation challenges across different product categories including monoclonal antibodies, bispecific antibodies, peptides, vaccines, antibody drug conjugates and nucleotides. Delegates then participated in an interactive session; a word cloud of the output is shown below.


Next, the agenda focussed on the formulation challenges of next generation biopharmaceuticals. First, John Liddell (National Biomanufacturing Centre, Darlington) spoke on the stability challenges in viral vector processing, discussing their capabilities as well as sharing a case study about adeno-associated virus vector stability. Nick Gaddum (Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, London) then focussed on automating fill/finish for cellular products, exemplifying this with work on freezing and thawing of cell therapy products.

A key element of the meeting was hearing from mainly early career researchers through poster presentations:

  • Hongyu Zhang (University College London): formulating mixtures of pharmaceutical products
  • James Austerberry (University of Manchester): scFv mutations to improve colloidal stability
  • Alice Fayter (University of Warwick): new polymer formulations for cryostorage of biopharmaceuticals
  • Imran Saleem (Liverpool John Moores University): dry powder nanocarrier systems to deliver biologics
  • Valentina Spiteri (University College London): analytical techniques applied to IgGs with and without glycans to determine the solution structures

Poster viewing and networking during the lunch break.

Following a lunch break which allowed for networking and poster viewing, the afternoon session began with a presentation from Saif Shubber (Ipsen Biopharm, Wrexham). Saif described the formulation challenges of the highly potent toxin products derived from Clostridium botulinum which are formulated at pM concentrations. Rongjun Chen (Imperial College London) continued with a presentation on his work on nanoscale systems for intracellular delivery of biologics inspired on viruses. Dylan Jones (Genzyme, Haverhill) discussed Genzyme’s capabilities in spray drying which provides a powerful and scalable tool for engineered particles for drug delivery.


The final talk was given by Jim Warwicker (University of Manchester) who spoke about some of the tools his group has developed to support computational approaches to biopharmaceutical formulation. A lively panel discussion followed, led by Richard Zajicek (GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage), which gave some food for thought for next steps for the biopharmaceutical formulation community. Through the generous support of industrial sponsors, a number of prizes and bursaries were given out. Richard presented poster prizes to:

  1. Alice Fayter (University of Warwick)
  2. Matya Zalar (University of Manchester)
  3. Litty Johnson (University of Nottingham)

Alan Dickson closed the meeting, which demonstrated a successful partnership between KTN and COEBP by enabling this community to meet, network and hopefully form future collaborations. Thank you to all who contributed and participated with a special thanks going out to the BFG Advisory Panel, the industrial sponsors (including Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and MedImmune), and our partners and hosts in this meeting, the COEBP, for their support. We’re all looking forward to the next one!

If you would like further information, please contact Marcel Kuiper, Knowledge Transfer Manager РHealth.


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