Most of the active components in drugs either are compounds obtained by chemical synthesis or biomolecules produced by microorganisms (often proteins), which are then called biopharmaceuticals. When we talk about biomolecule production it can be separated into two sections: the up- and downstream-process. The main focus of an upstream-process lies on the preparation of the host cells and their fermentation. After a successful production the target protein needs to be separated from impurities. Protein purification – the downstream process – is an important procedure used to produce biomolecules in a highly pure form for the use in human healthcare.
There are a multitude of challenges associated with the production of next-generation biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. To be effective as a public health tool, vaccines for example are increasingly administered in form of a combination of more than one component and produced in large scale by means of seed viruses. These are living pathogens that multiply in cells from chicken eggs. The rule of thumb “one vaccine dose per egg” means that the number of vaccines is limited to 150 to 200 million available eggs worldwide. Formerly used alternative platforms – such as vaccine production in cell cultures (e.g. mammalian cells) – also have the disadvantage of instability. A new platform technology for the production of the most diverse proteins in an optimised process could be the answer.