Freeze–thaw characterization process to minimize aggregation

Physical instabilities of proteins in the form of protein aggregation continue to be a major challenge in the development of protein drug candidates. Aggregation can occur during different stages of product lifecycle such as freeze–thaw, manufacturing, shipping, and storage, and can potentially delay commercialization of candidates. A lack of clear understanding of the underlying mechanism(s) behind protein aggregation and the potential immunogenic reactions renders the presence of aggregates in biotherapeutic products undesirable. Understanding and minimizing aggregation can potentially reduce immunogenic responses and make protein therapeutics safer. Therefore, it is imperative to identify, understand, and control aggregation during early formulation development and develop reliable and orthogonal analytical methodologies to detect and monitor levels of aggregation. Freezing and thawing are typical steps involved in the manufacturing of drug product and could result in complex physical and chemical changes, which in turn could potentially cause protein aggregation.

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Fig: Low temperature DSC profile of mAb-1.

This study provides a systematic approach in understanding and selecting the ideal freeze–thaw conditions for manufacturing of protein-based therapeutics. It identifies the importance of balancing different excipients with an overall goal of sufficiently reducing or eliminating aggregation and developing a stable and scalable formulation. The results demonstrated that the freeze–thaw damage of mAb-1 in aqueous solutions was significantly reduced by identification of optimal freeze–thaw conditions using first a small-scale model with subsequent at-scale verifications. The work provides a framework for successful transfer of drug product manufacturing process from small-scale to the manufacturing scale production environment especially for molecules that are susceptible to freeze–thaw induced degradations.

Jain, K., Salamat-Miller, N. & Taylor, K. Freeze–thaw characterization process to minimize aggregation and enable drug product manufacturing of protein based therapeutics. Sci Rep 11, 11332 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90772-9

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