The dramatic growth in advanced therapies has led to greater demand for viral vectors, and the need for higher titers of lentiviral vectors. According to VIVEBiotech, a CDMO that specializes in lentivirus production, the company is attempting to address the bottleneck by increasing batch sizes and productivity per cell.

“We’re trying to address both titers and our capabilities through scaling up and R&D,” says Natalia Elizalde, PhD, business development director. “The R&D is to increase the amount of lentivirus vector being produced per cell, so higher titers are reached in the same reaction, and also to target the cell in a more efficient manner.”

In terms of scaling up their capabilities, Elizalde adds that the company is due to move to a new, larger building in June 2021. “It will increase the number of batches manufactured and the batch sizes. We’ll go from twenty batches a year up to eighty,” she continues.

The company is also working to improve its manufacturing processes with departments dedicated to optimizing the downstream and upstream components, she says. In addition, they’re using adherent bioreactors with the aim of producing more cells in a smaller footprint.

Another aspect of their approach, Elizalde tells GEN, is working with companies from a relatively early stage in development. “CMOs often start on a project when there’s already been some optimization [of the manufacturing process],” she points out. “We could produce the vector as it is, but we try to optimize from the production point-of-view.”

Elizalde argues that, by taking on the project before process optimization, they can ensure the scale-up to commercial-scale manufacturing is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

“We’re doing everything from beginning to end, optimizing at the R&D stage and delivering a transferrable process, so the tech transfer is direct and obvious,” she says, explaining that the teams coordinate to ensure that results obtained in shake flasks can be translated directly into a larger-scale bioreactor.