The Dish’s Weekly Biotechnology News Wrap Up – October 23, 2015

This week’s biotechnology news headlines include, BMS and Five Prime partner on cancer treatments, AstraZeneca opens facility in Russia, Kite Pharma signs exclusive license with NIH, Pfizer’s leukemia drug gets breakthrough designation, Eli Lilly’s RA drug outperforms Humira in study, Pharma firms team upf or $100M dementia fund, and Novartis expands cancer therapy pipeline.

Cell Culture Events

Ask the Expert:

Optimization of serum free media for the propagation of primary and stem cells in animal and human serum component free conditions

Optimization of serum free media can be a complex and daunting challenge for scientists working to bring a cellular therapy to market. When considering raw material sourcing, it is important to limit animal or human serum derived components as these are major sources of variability and potential viral contamination risks. Inclusion of recombinant versions represents a viable alternative to circumvent issues associated with serum-derived proteins. However, utilization of these components can sometimes bring new hurdles to light.

Here, I discuss serum free media design and formulation for an array of primary and stem cell systems. Using recombinant animal free proteins, I can provide guidance to convert any media to be completely void of any human serum or animal serum-derived components. Further, through this guidance, I can share some tricks to the trade that I’ve learned along the way to maximize performance of your cell system.

This Ask the Expert session is sponsored by InVitria and is hosted by Randall Alfano. Mr. Alfano, Cell Culture Scientist, joined InVitria in 2012. He currently develops animal free proteins and supplements for various cell systems including stem cells. He has over  6 years’ experience in recombinant protein expression and purification as well as medium development for CHO-based biomanufacturing and stem cells. Randall was awarded his Ph.D. in 2009 from the Texas A&M College of Medicine Health Science Center in Cell Biology.

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. –


“Bristol-Myers, Five Prime to Develop Cancer Treatments,” The Wall Street Journal

“Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Thursday it has struck an exclusive licensing and collaboration deal to develop and market cancer treatments with Five Prime Therapeutics Inc.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Cancer Drug Market Continues to Grow and is Fueled by Significant R&D Focus and Clinical Pipeline

“AstraZeneca opens new $224 million drug factory in Russia,” Reuters

“AstraZeneca opened a new $224 million drug manufacturing and packaging factory in Russia on Tuesday in a move Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said reinforced its long-term commitment to the country.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “The Future of Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing – Solutions to Address Industry Challenges

“Kite Pharma Signs New License with NIH,” Los Angeles Business Journal

“Santa Monica cancer drug developer Kite Pharma Inc. announced it had entered into another exclusive worldwide license with the National Institutes of Health for immuno-oncology drug candidates. This latest license covers treatments targeting tumors associated with lung, gastric, pancreatic and breast cancer, among others.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “A Look at the State of Cell Therapy – Current Manufacturing Options and Opportunities for Further Advancements – Part I

“US ‘breakthrough’ status for Pfizer’s leukaemia drug,” PharmaTimes

“Pfizer’s investigational antibody-drug conjugate inotuzumab ozogamicin has been awarded ‘breakthrough’ status in the US for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, potentially putting the drug on a faster development and review pathway.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Cool Tool – mAbVault for Antibody Manufacturing: Protect Quality, Minimize Expenses, and Simplify Scale-up

“Lilly pill trumps Humira in arthritis study,” Reuters

“Eli Lilly and Co’s experimental pill for rheumatoid arthritis proved superior to Abbvie Inc’s leading injectable Humira treatment in a large study, which analysts said could prod them to raise sales forecasts for the medicine.”

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

“Drug firms sign up to $100m dementia research fund,” The Telegraph

“Half a dozen pharmaceutical firms have teamed up to support a $100m fund that will search for new dementia treatments, in the hope of a breakthrough on a widespread health issue that the industry has so far struggled to address.”

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

“Novartis broadens cancer immune therapy pipeline with acquisition, pacts,” Reuters

“Novartis has broadened its immuno-oncology pipeline with the acquisition of Admune Therapeutics and through licensing agreements with small drug developers Xoma and Palobiofarma.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Hollow Fiber Provides a Sweet Spot for Several Biomanufacturing Applications

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