Blog | February 27, 2023

ARW's C&G+RNA Manufacturing Must-Reads (Pinocchio Edition!)

Source: Cell & Gene Collaborative
Anna Rose Welch Headshot

By Anna Rose Welch, Director, Cell & Gene Collaborative
Subscribe to my blog ARW on CGT here!


Day-in and day-out, I write, read, listen to, and watch as much content as I can about CGT and RNA therapy manufacturing, in particular, and/or other ATMP industry-related topics that you should at least be aware of in the manufacturing facility. Every two weeks, I compile the articles and industry updates I think are most worthy of your time into an unconventional newsletter format (below) and send them out via email.

On this day in 1940, Disney launched its film, Pinocchio. In honor of “Pinocchio Day,” which is celebrated on February 23, this edition of your manufacturing must-reads is organized according to several “truths” or “lies” about ATMP development. While uttering some of these statements out loud could make your nose grow longer, please note, all the articles shared here are as true/accurate as they come.

“Goldilocks & The Three Bears” is actually a story about the CGT space.

  • Well... no. But after listening to the FDA’s Cell & Gene Town Halls, I firmly believe we are currently living in our own version of “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears” when it comes to our CMC initiatives.
  • My latest article analyzes how our quest for “just right” is reflected in the questions we posed to the FDA during each Town Hall about comparability and CGMP principles.

“There’s totally a tool for that.”

  • While I tend to be skeptical of such unbridled confidence, there could be some truth to this statement, depending on your process dev/mfrg goals.
  • This article, “Emerging Technologies & Companies in CGT Manufacturing,” is longer than Pinocchio’s nose after telling multiple lies — but it’s well worth the endeavor. Not only does it list the start-up technology companies working to develop/improve analytical and manufacturing equipment for (immune) cell therapy and gene therapy (AAV/LNP), but it also reviews innovations related to plasmid DNA, viral vector analytics, chromatography, LNP manufacturing, transfection, cell separation/selection, and... — the list keeps going.
  • If you’re craving a bit more of a “compare and contrast” approach, this article in bioengineering highlights the benefits and existing challenges of current cell culture bags, G flasks, bioreactors (rocking/stirred/etc.), and semi/fully automatic closed bioreactor systems.
  • For more on bioreactors, this article reviews the automated and semi-automated bioreactor platform options available specifically for producing clinical grade CAR engineered cells. The original review is not open access, but you can find the full-text embedded in this LinkedIn post from Ben McLeod.
    • FYI, Ben is a great person to follow on LinkedIn if you want to keep up to date on the scientific/manufacturing-related research/publication world.

“FDA launches CMC knitting group to bolster informal industry/agency communication.”

“Sharing Is Caring.”

  • That’s 100% true — unless we’re talking about germs or any story that starts with the phrase, “I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but...”
  • When it comes to the IVT process, however, we could all stand to share a bit more. That’s why Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences have put forth a call for abstracts on a wide host of topics around better understanding the IVT reaction/process and the resulting mRNA yield/quality. Topics up for grabs include emerging analytical tools, polymerase designs, enzymatic capping advances, and purification challenges — to name just a few.

“The Process Is The Product.”

  • Alright, I’ll admit this statement is kind of tricky. A lot of people say this — but quite a few also argue it’s not true, given our immature understanding of our ATMP products’ structure and function.
  • Luckily, in the mRNA space, we’re seeing a few efforts to better characterize our products.
  • mRNA isn’t the only modality that wants to become a “real” boy highly characterized molecule; AAV is also on a similar path to greater “self-actualization.”

“This Must-Reads newsletter always delivers the goods — and the humor never falls flat!”

Writing SOPs is as easy as making a PB&J.

  • Repeat after me: writing is agony (she says, revising this sentence for the 76th time in an hour).
  • But if you don’t believe me, check out this highly entertaining video of kids trying to teach their dad how to make a PB&J sandwich. It not only proves that giving clear instructions is hard, but it shows there are just as many complex ways of “developing” a PB&J sandwich as there are a CGT — and the inefficiency of some methods thanks to vague "SOPs" can be positively virtuosic.