Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s 11th Annual

Optimizing Cell Line Development

Enhancing Expression

August  15-16 , 2019


Cell Line Development has reached a new plateau influenced by genomic research and insights, along with emerging technologies that are pushing cell engineering into an uncharted future. The “Optimizing Cell Line Development” conference brings together experts who are forging this new era. They will share how to best optimize codons, construct vectors, and how to select and engineer clones and host systems, while maintaining stability and consistency. The conference will also focus on genomic research for CHO and other systems, as well as glycoengineering, systems biology, assays, and pathway delineation.  In addition, challenges for introducing new technologies will be discussed, along with an overview of industrial trends and regulatory perspectives.

Final Agenda

Thursday, August 15

11:30 am Registration Open

12:15 pm Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:15 Ice Cream Social in the Exhibit Hall with Last Chance for Poster Viewing


1:55 Chairperson’s Remarks

Lorenz Mayr, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, GE Healthcare Life Sciences

2:00 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Cell Line Development in the Digital Age

Stevens_JennitteJennitte Stevens, PhD, Director, Process Development, Drug Substance Technologies, Amgen, Inc.

Within the discovery-to-market development cycle for biopharmaceuticals, Cell Line Development holds a critical role in creating and selecting a cell line that becomes the Master Cell Bank for clinical and commercial biomanufacturing.  Cell line generation and selection have largely been driven by resource-intensive manual cell culture processes and analytics.  Analysis and decision points predominantly rely on generating large volumes of secreted protein, rate limited by cell doubling times and analytical sensitivities/development.  For every project, a wealth of data is generated.  However, a modular design framework has yet to leverage this data, unify processes, and transform current workflows in ways that will enable demands for shorter timelines and increasing complexity of modalities.  Through the integration of machine learning frameworks, and computer guided cell line selection, we are shifting from an established, traditional method of manual cell culture and analysis towards a “digital cell culture” paradigm.  Our strategy is two-fold: one is the implementation of nanofluidic technology to manipulate and collect data at a single-cell level and breed omics/genetics based understanding/intelligence, the second is utilization of machine learning to provide predictive power for cell line selection, deliver efficiency, and enable a scalable/transferable digital platform across Amgen, and will ultimately enable precise decision making, drive improved performance, better understand/control/select for quality attributes, and dematerialize workflows.  

2:45 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Mammalian Synthetic Biology: Foundations and Application to Cell Line Engineering

Weiss_RonRon Weiss, PhD, Professor, Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

In this research, we appropriate from established engineering fields proven design principles such as abstraction, standardization, modularity, and computer aided design. But we also spend considerable effort towards understanding what makes synthetic biology different from all other existing engineering disciplines and discovering new design rules that are effective for the biological substrate. Building on this foundation, I will describe our recent application of synthetic biology tools and principles towards the improvement of cell line engineering and biomanufacturing.

3:30 Extended Q&A with Keynote Speakers  

3:45 Refreshment Break


4:15 Novel Technologies to Accelerate Cell Line Development Timelines Close to the Biological Limit

Jostock_ThomasThomas Jostock, PhD, Senior Investigator II and Leading Scientist, Novartis Biologics Center, Novartis Pharma AG

This presentation will summarize how different novel technologies were implemented to enable aggressive acceleration of cell line development processes.

4:45 Platform Approaches Enabling Single-Cycle Cell Line Development

Linda Francullo, Principal Scientist, Drug Substance Development, Pfizer, Inc.

Historically, when time and resources where plentiful, the philosophy was if you can manipulate the CHO cells to express the product;  you could build enough bioreactors to supply Phase 1  and there was always time to make improvements prior to commercialization.  Recently, the paradigm has shifted to greatly reducing time and resources from Phase I to launch.  Advances in our cell line development platforms have enabled progress toward single cycle development reducing timelines and resources pre-clinical development to commercial launch. 

5:15 End of Day

Friday, August 16

7:30 am Registration Open

7:30 Small-Group Breakout Discussions with Continental Breakfast

This session provides the opportunity to discuss a focused topic with peers from around the world in an open, collegial setting. Select from the list of topics available and join the moderated discussion to share ideas, gain insights, establish collaborations or commiserate about persistent challenges.


8:30 Chairperson’s Remarks

Thomas Jostock, PhD, Senior Investigator II and Leading Scientist, Novartis Biologics Center, Novartis Pharma AG

8:35 FEATURED PRESENTATION: Regulating Recombinant Protein Expression during CHO Pool Selection Increases Productivity

Durocher_YvesYves Durocher, PhD, Principal Research Officer, Human Health Therapeutics Research Center, National Research Council Canada

During the generation of stable cell lines, high-level expression of recombinant protein (r-protein) may impose a metabolic burden on the cells and many are likely to fail surviving the selection process. Using the cumate-inducible expression system, we show that selection in the “off-mode” allows the generation of stable pools with up to 3-fold higher productivity compared to selection in the “on-mode” (mimicking constitutive promoters). This was observed with many r-proteins, including monoclonal antibodies, GPCRs and cytokines.

9:05 The Development of Advanced Synthetic Biology Tools to Accelerate CHO Cell Line Engineering

Chen_WilliamWilliam C.W. Chen, MD, PhD, Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Traditional cell line engineering strategies using random gene integration and high-throughput colony screening are laborious and time-consuming. To address those issues, we have developed a recombinase-based, site-specific gene integration approach to accelerate CHO cell line engineering and stabilize long-term gene expression. We recently demonstrated that this approach can be applied to improve monoclonal antibody productions and control post-translational modifications. In addition, we are developing two new approaches to further enhance bioproduction and bioprocessing: 1. a machine learning approach to assist high-throughput screenings of small 5’UTR sequences that augment target gene expression; 2. an ultrasensitive single-wall carbon nanotube-based protein detection method that enables single-cell analysis of protein products secreted from various cell types. Overall, these powerful platform technologies developed at the MIT Synthetic Biology Center are versatile and can be adapted to different cell types and biomanufacturing settings to optimize complex therapeutic molecule productions. 

9:35 Complete Elimination of the Warburg Effect in CHO Cells

Hefzi_HoomanHooman Hefzi, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Pediatrics, UC San Diego (UCSD)

Lactate has long been a problem in mammalian cell culture, requiring rigid bioprocess strategies to control. We show that simultaneous knockout of lactate dehydrogenase and ancillary regulatory enzymes reduces culture lactate to negligible levels. The resulting Warburg-null lines retain the same growth rate while gaining an extended proliferative period. The cells remain amenable to standard workflows for generating protein producing lines and maintain mature glycan structures. These cells are thus an attractive starting host cell line for industrial purposes.

10:05 Networking Coffee Break


10:30  A Bioinformatics Approach to Genome to Phenome Predictions in CHO Cell Lines

Derrick_ScottDerrick Scott, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, and Director, Bioinformatics, Delaware State University

CHO cells are the most important host cells used in manufacturing more than 50% of biologic medicines (also called biopharmaceuticals), with global sales over $120 billion per year.  We are poised to establish new systems biology approaches that will allow the community to leverage the CHO genome and gain a detailed understanding of the CHO phenome to advance patient access to expensive medicines.

11:00  Optimizing Biologics by Cell-Based Glycoengineering

Kristensen_ClausClaus Kristensen, PhD, CEO, GlycoDisplay Aps

Glycan structures on proteins are important for circulation, targeting and efficacy of glycoprotein therapeutics and therefore Glycodisplay work on improving biologics by optimizing glycans. Using a cell-based platform we display different glycan structures onto therapeutic protein candidates and screen for improved therapeutics. Glycodisplay has now completed glyco-optimization of the alpha-Galactosidase enzyme, which is missing in Fabry disease and discovered a novel Long-Acting GlycoDesign (LAGD) which improve circulation and biodistribution. The LAGD alpha-Galactosidase is a potential Biobetter for treatment of Fabry disease.

11:30  Flow Cytometry: An Indispensable Tool in Biomanufacturing Cell Line Generation and Process Development

Chakrabarti_LinaLina Chakrabarti, PhD, Senior Manager, R&D, AstraZeneca

Biopharmaceutical products are expected to be well characterized and consistent in quality to ensure patient safety and drug efficacy. We routinely utilize the unlimited applications of flow cytometry in the key processes of biomanufacturing, from monoclonal cell line generation to bioprocess development. Flow cytometry provides a far-reaching tool not only by allowing rapid analysis of millions of cells and enabling isolation of individual cells with defined cellular characteristics, but also by advancing the optimization of cell line selection process.

12:00 pm Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:15 Session Break


1:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

Elli Makrydaki, MS, Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London

1:30  An Artificial Golgi Reactor as an Alternative Method for Targeted Cell-Free Glycosylation

Makrydaki_ElliElli Makrydaki, MRes, MEng, Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London

We propose the design of an Artificial Golgi reactor for in vitro glycosylation of mAbs in a cell free system. By expressing selected glycosyltransferases and immobilising them on streptavidin coated beads we achieve sequential enzymatic reactions. By combining the benefits of a cell free system and the stability offered by immobilisation, the Artificial Golgi reactor can be an alternative production platform allowing enhanced product quality.

2:00  Establishing a Robust HeLa Cell Line Screening Platform for Rapid, Scalable rAAV Production

Tiernan_AubreyAubrey R. Tiernan, PhD, Associate Director and Head, Cell Line Development, Ultragenyx Gene Therapy

One challenge for cell line development in industry is to generate highly productive stable cell lines within the shortest time frame possible. This presentation will cover lessons learned over three years in establishing a robust, high throughput HeLa suspension screening platform to generate stable monoclonal producer cell lines suitable for Phase III clinical trial/commercial rAAV production.

2:30  Driving Biological Discovery: An Expanding Toolkit for Affinity Proteomics

LaCava_JohnJohn LaCava, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology, The Rockefeller University

It remains challenging to transfer intact physiological macromolecules from their native sources into suitably stabilizing in vitro environments. To address this, we developed an interactome capture platform that is akin to a crystallographic screen. The approach will be summarized in this talk, leveraging research vignettes. Our long-term objective is to enable the transfer of cognate healthy and pathogenic macromolecules from their in vivo milieus into test tubes, for biochemical, structural, and mechanistic studies.

3:00 Close of Conference