The Dish’s Weekly Biotechnology News Wrap Up – October 30, 2015

This week’s biotechnology news headlines include, four potential blockbuster drugs, Amgen gets EU green light for virus-based cancer drug, biodefense innovation needed, Merrimack gets FDA approval for pancreatic cancer drug, Vertex and CRISPR launch collaboration, WHO recommends pilot for malaria vaccine, and Alpine Immune Sciences, Inc. and Kite Pharma finalize collaboration.

Cell Culture Events

Ask the Expert:

Hematopoietic Stem & Progenitor Cell Culture

The culture of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) is important to assay the quality and functional properties of HSPCs e.g., during the implementation of transplantation or other approaches to treat hematological disorders, such as leukemia. Examples of HSPC culture assays include colony-forming unit (CFU) assays in semi-solid methylcellulose-based media, such as MethoCult™, to identify and quantify HSPCs, and expansion cultures in liquid media, such as StemSpan™, to increase HSPC numbers or generate large numbers of mature blood cells. These culture methods can also used to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of new drug candidates on hematopoiesis in vitro and to generate target cells for reprogramming to generate induced pluripotent stem cells.

In this Ask the Expert Session, we will discuss challenges and techniques for the culture of HSPCs, including the use of serum-free, defined media and supplements that have been developed by STEMCELL Technologies for HSPC culture applications.

This session is sponsored by STEMCELL Technologies and hosted by Dr. Bert Wognum. Dr. Wognum is the Principal Scientist for Hematopoietic & Immunopoietic Products in R&D at STEMCELL Technologies, and currently leads the development of new media and supplements for the expansion, differentiation and detection of HSPCs in culture.

Dr. Wognum obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver, Canada, and the Department of Hematology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He studied the role of hematopoietic growth factors and their receptors in normal hematopoiesis and leukemia and contributed to preclinical studies aimed at improving hematopoietic recovery after cytoreductive therapy and transplantation.

Please take advantage of the opportunity to ask our expert a question and participate in a discussion on serum-free conditions for the ex vivo expansion of human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Session Starts Monday!


Increasing Large-Scale Protein Production Using a Novel Supplement Without Affecting Metabolic Profiles

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 11 AM-12 PM EST

Bio-therapeutics have been a growing area of medicine for many years. Manufacturing
those therapies has been predominantly done by cell factories. The cost and consistency around that process is area for novel techniques used to improve bio-processing.

We investigated the use of Cell-Ess to improve protein yield. When added at the beginning of culture, we were able to increase the yield in titer of antibody protein production by 30% in CHO cells, without increasing proliferation or changes to the metabolite profile. Using the supplement as a feed, increased titer by 25% and extended the window for peak protein production. The supplement was also tested in a single–use bioreactor and a 5 liter Wave bioreactor. Please register for our webinar to see how we did it

Register here



  • 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. –


“4 Blockbuster Drugs Whose Sales Could Easily Double,” The Motley Fool

“The holy grail of the drug development process is uncovering a drug capable of blockbuster sales. In layman’s terms, we’re talking about $1 billion or more in annual sales.”

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

“Amgen wins EU green light for first virus-based cancer drug,” Reuters

“A first-in-class drug from Amgen based on a tumour-killing virus was given a green light by European regulators on Friday, paving the way for its approval within a couple of months.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Enabling High Throughput 3D Cell Culture Using Automation

“Opinion: Biodefense Innovation Needed,” The Scientist

“From the early days of space exploration, NASA assumed that astronauts could encounter extraterrestrial microorganisms during their missions. Would these organisms be entirely alien? Could they be detected? If they caused disease, could astronauts learn enough about them to determine treatments?”

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

“FDA clears Merrimack’s pancreatic cancer drug with warning,” Reuters

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Merrimack Pharmaceutical Inc’s pancreatic cancer drug, Onivyde, with a severe safety warning.”

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

“Vertex, CRISPR Launch Up-to-$2.5B Gene-Editing Collaboration,” Genetic Engineering News

“Vertex Pharmaceuticals will use gene-editing technology from CRISPR Therapeutics to discover and develop potential new treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF) and sickle cell disease, the companies said today. The collaboration will generate at least $105 million for CRISPR upfront—and possibly more than $2.5 billion in milestone payments.”

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

“World’s first malaria vaccine delayed as WHO experts urge caution,” Reuters

“The world’s first malaria vaccine is promising but should be used on a pilot basis before any wide-scale use, given its limited efficacy, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said on Friday.”

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

“Seattle biotech inks deal worth up to $535M with Kite Pharma,” Puget Sound Business Journal

“Young Seattle immunotherapy biotech company Alpine Immune Sciences Inc. has landed its first collaboration deal, and it’s a big one.”

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

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