Our modern health care systems rest on the availability of biopharmaceutical proteins. Among these proteins are monoclonal antibodies used for cancer therapy as well as innovative vaccines that exhibit therapeutic effects. The production and processing of such proteins is costly and time consuming because we are currently lacking reliable models predicting their expression, purification and manufacturability. Therefore, many operations in a production process of biopharmaceuticals are being developed by a trial and error approach leaving a relevant chance for product failure in the end despite the substantial amount of empiric knowledge that has been accumulated over the years.
In this respect, the Attract group "FAST-PEP" located at the Fraunhofer IME in Aachen has three major research foci. First, we aim to predict protein expression levels based on different genetic elements such as promoters and UTRs. Second, procedures are being developed that characterize the separation behavior of proteins for different purification operations (e.g. chromatography). Combined with mass balances this allows the rating of purification processes in terms of product yield and purity. Furthermore, the group is investigating how the data accumulated in the steps described above can be integrated and analyzed in order to improve the predictive models.