Cambridge Healthtech Institute recently interviewed Dr. Yves Durocher of National Research Council Canada about mammalian cell expression. He will present on “Rapid Production of Recombinant Proteins in CHO Cells Using Large-Scale Transfection or Stable Pools” at the 4th Annual Optimizing Expression Platforms conference, taking place January 12-13, 2017 as part of the 16th Annual PepTalk event which runs from January 9-13, 2017 in San Diego, CA.

(Attendees of the CHO Cell Lines conference can join this same talk during a shared session on Thursday, January 12.)

Q1: Can you describe your current research activities and goals?

I lead mammalian cell expression activities at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), where I supervise three teams conducting research in cell engineering, cell line development, and rapid protein production. We are currently working toward the development of a seamless, scalable CHO expression platform comprising transient and stable pools and clones for the production of recombinant proteins.

Q2: How did you come to work with a CHO transient expression platform to produce recombinant proteins?

After having established a robust and scalable HEK293 transfection platform using polyethylenimine (PEI) as a reagent, I started developing a similar transfection platform with CHO cells in 2005 in response to the needs expressed by NRC’s industrial partners.

Q3: What have been the benefits and challenges?

The benefits of using CHO cells to produce recombinant proteins are well known in the industry. By working with CHO starting for the early discovery all the way up to production of GMP lots, a developer can avoid surprises down the line in terms of manufacturability and product quality attributes.

Among the challenges at the outset was the perception that CHO cells were difficult to transfect. Indeed, our first attempts were less than groundbreaking, but following extensive optimization and using PEI, we now know that CHO cells are just as easy to transfect as 293 cells.

Q4: Where do you see your field heading in the next 5-10 years?

At NRC, we are aiming to develop an integrated expression platform where the same cells, expression vector, and culture medium are used for all applications: transient, pool, and stable. We believe this will help streamline the discovery and candidate development phases. I also think we are going to see CHO transient expression or stable pools being used to produce GMP lots for Phase I in the future.

Q5: What do you look forward to most about PepTalk 2017’s programs?

I’m hoping to gain greater insights into genome editing for host cell line engineering and improvement, so I’m looking forward to the Engineering Genes and Hosts component of the Biotherapeutic Expression and Production stream.


Yves_DurocherYves Durocher, Ph.D., Section Head, Mammalian Cell Expression - NRC Human Health Therapeutics Portfolio, National Research Council Canada

Yves Durocher has been a Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada since 1995. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Montreal. Since the last 16 years, his research activities have been headed on the development of large-scale transient gene expression (LSTGE) platforms using HEK293 and CHO cells for protein production. More recently, he has also been focusing on developing and engineering a stable CHO cell line platform for manufacturing recombinant protein therapeutics.


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