The Dish’s Weekly Biotechnology News Wrap Up – October 16, 2015

This week’s biotechnology news headlines include, drug pricing debate, Novartis invests in Gamida Cell, Abemaciclib gets breakthrough status for refractory breast cancer, Roche’s MS candidate performing well in two clinical trials, MedImmune joins others in human vaccines project, and Roche to acquire Adheron Therapeutics.

Cell Culture Events


Ask the Expert:

Achieve gram per liter protein yields in a transient CHO system

CHO cells are the predominant host for biotherapeutic protein expression, with roughly 70% of licensed biologics manufactured in CHO.  Multiple attributes make CHO cells desirable for bioproduction including the ability to adapt to high-density suspension culture in serum-free and chemically-defined media and the incorporation of post-translational modifications that are biologically-active in humans.   For these reasons, the ability to produce transient CHO-derived proteins early on during drug development is highly advantageous to minimize, as much as possible, changes in protein quality/function observed when moving from R&D to bioproduction.  Unfortunately, CHO cells express lower levels of protein than HEK293 cells in existing transient systems, in some instances 50-100 times less than the best 293-based systems.  The  recent introduction of the ExpiCHO transient expression system allows for unprecedented access to CHO-derived proteins early on during candidate selection and may serve to revolutionize the use of CHO cells for transient protein expression during the drug development process.

This Ask the Expert session is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc and is hosted by Jonathan Zmuda, Ph.D., Associate Director of Cell Biology in the Life Sciences Solutions Group.  Prominent among his roles, Dr. Zmuda leads a team dedicated to discovering and developing new technologies and products useful for cell biology applications including protein expression, cell culture, rare cell analysis and instrumentation.  Dr. Zmuda received his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

Session Starts Monday!



The BioProcess International (BPI) Conference & Exhibition is the #1 meeting place for industry to connect and share technical, scientific and strategic innovations across all phases of bioprocess development.

If you are attending BPI, don’t miss these events – Going to the BioProcess International Conference? Don’t miss these exciting activities!


  • Bioproduction Summit 2015 – November 2-3, 2015 – Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront – Burlingame, CA Bioproduction Summit 2015 will focus on quintessential topics in Biotech field, such as technology advances in protein production, Cell culture, Bioprocess Development and Novel protein therapeutics.
  • World Vaccine Congress – November 3-5, 2015 – Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel – Brussels, Belgium –  For 15 years the World Vaccine Congress in Europe has been the leading event to talk about scientific advances and find new business opportunities within the vaccine sector and this year is no exception.
  • FAST: Functional Analysis & Screening Technologies Congress – November 9-11, 2015 – Renaissance Waterfront Hotel – Boston, MA -Cambridge Healthtech Institute (CHI) is pleased to announce the Third Annual FAST: Functional Analysis and Screening Technologies Congress. Now in its third year, the FAST Congress brings you the latest technologies and research in cellular screening. –


“Drug Wars Used to Be About Drugs, Not Prices,” The Wall Street Journal

“Medicine prices are often established by considering a drug’s benefit based on clinical and real-world evidence such as efficacy, length or quality of life and reduction in other health-care costs such as hospitalizations (“Price Increases Drive Drug Firms’ Revenue,” page one, Oct. 6). And when one looks closer at IMS Health Holdings Inc. ’s data, net prescription prices grew just 5.5% in 2014 because of steep discounting and other concessions.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Quality by Design – Maintaining Strict Control of Bioprocess Conditions

“Novartis buys another 2.5 percent in Israel’s Gamida Cell,” Reuters

“Swiss drugmaker Novartis will invest up to an extra $15 million in Gamida Cell, an Israeli developer of stem cell therapies, Gamida said on Sunday.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Tissue Dissociation – Moving toward standardized protocols and increased consistency

“FDA Grants Abemaciclib Breakthrough Status for Refractory Breast Cancer,” OncLive

“The FDA has granted the CDK4/6 inhibitor abemaciclib (LY2835219) a breakthrough therapy designation as monotherapy for heavily pretreated patients with refractory hormone-receptor (HR)-positive advanced breast cancer, based on data from a phase I study.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Cool Tool – STEP Technology for the rapid generation of very high producing stable CHO cell lines

“Roche drug may set new benchmark in MS, data suggest,” Reuters

“Roche’s big new drug hope ocrelizumab cut multiple sclerosis relapses by nearly 50 percent compared with the older product Rebif in two large clinical trials, underscoring its potential in the main relapsing form of the disease.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “2014 FDA New Drug Approvals – 11 Biologics Receive Approval

“MedImmune joins GSK, Vanderbilt U in Human Vaccines Project,” Fierce Vaccines

“AstraZeneca’s ($AZN) MedImmune is joining the likes of Vanderbilt University and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) as a member of the Human Vaccines Project, the company announced Tuesday.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “You can teach an old dog new tricks: Vero cells for virus-based cancer vaccine therapies

“Roche to buy U.S. biotech group Adheron Therapeutics,” Reuters

“Swiss drugmaker Roche will acquire U.S. biotech group Adheron Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $580 million that boosts its pipeline of products to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Adheron said on Friday.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Exosomes: A Major Phenomenon Flying Under the Radar


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