PRiME researchers partner with TIAP and Amgen Inc. for biomanufacturing-focused project

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Published on Dec 8, 2020

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December 8, 2020 PRiME researchers partner with TIAP and Amgen Inc. for biomanufacturing-focused project

PRiME Director, Dr. Shana Kelley, together with Drs. Jason Moffat and Stephane Angers, has secured investment from the TIAP-Amgen partnership program to test a high-throughput cell-screening device that can enable the engineering of cells with superior antibody bioproduction capabilities. This collaboration is one of 3 projects recently announced under a strategic partnership between Amgen Inc. and Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP) to transform discovery research from the University of Toronto community.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Amgen and TIAP to validate the MICS technology as a platform enabling therapeutic antibody production and we greatly appreciate the support provided by these sponsors,” says Dr. Kelley.

The Microfluidics Immunomagnetic Cell Sorter (MICS) developed in the Kelley lab uses CRISPR gene editing and new cytometric tools to isolate cells with a desired phenotype through in a high-throughput manner. The technology platform is a innovative development resulting from diverse expertise residing in the Kelley, Angers, and Moffat labs. It has potential to be an economical platform that performs faster and with greater capacity than existing Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) technology. In proof-of-concept work published in Nature Biomedical Engineering in 2019, the collaborative team showed that this platform could be used to screen for regulators of protein expression. MICS has promise for drug discovery and development, allowing for the targeting of extracellular, intracellular, and secreted proteins in different cancer, stem or primary cell types for comprehensive phenotypic profiling studies.

The UofT-Amgen team will use this technology platform to develop new approaches for antibody bioproduction.  As antibody-based therapeutics become increasing complex, their bioproduction is increasingly challenging and new strategies are needed to allow high yields to be realized. The collaborative project aims to develop new approaches to increase the efficiency of the production of therapeutic antibodies.

Dr. John Delaney, Director of Amgen’s Research Technology Prospecting and Collaborations, added, “The Microfluidics Cell Sorting technology being developed by the Kelley lab has the potential to be an important and innovative tool in the drug discovery process.  Working together with TIAP and the University of Toronto PRiME group allows for exploration of emerging innovation represented by MICS.”