Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Using porcine trypsin in biologics manufacture?

by Dr. Ray Nims

On March 22, 2010, a press release from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that porcine circovirus 1 (PCV 1) DNA had been detected in their rotavirus vaccine. On May 6, Merck disclosed that it had found DNA fragments of both PCV types 1 and 2 in its rotavirus vaccine. The PCV 2 findings in Merck's vaccine may be of greater concern, due to the fact that this virus causes disease in pigs, while PCV 1 apparently does not. However, the relative amounts of PCV DNA found in the GSK vaccine appear to be much greater (the lab discovering the PCV DNA in the GSK vaccine did not detect any in the Merck vaccine), and the worry in this case is that some of the genomic material may be associated with infectious PCV 1 virus. In both cases, the presence of the PCV genomic material has been attributed to the use of porcine trypsin at some point in the vaccine manufacturing process.

The FDA convened an advisory committee meeting on May 7th to discuss the findings of PCV DNA in the two licensed rotavirus vaccines. What was the result of the advisory committee meeting? The advisory committee felt that the benefits of the rotavirus vaccines clearly outweigh the risks. This, added to the fact that there appears to be little human health hazard associated with these viruses, led to the FDA clearing the two vaccines for continued use on May 14th. The product labels will be updated to reflect the presence of the PCV DNA in these products. In the longer term, these products may need to be "reengineered" to remove the PCV DNA. This may involve the preparation of new Master and Working cell banks and thus will take some time.

Another likely outcome of the advisory committee’s meeting may be heightened expectations, going forward, for PCV screening of porcine raw materials and of Master and Working cell banks which were exposed to porcine ingredients (e.g., trypsin) at some point in their development. Porcine-derived raw materials which are used in the production of biologics are to be tested per 9 CFR 113.53 Requirements for ingredients of animal origin used for production of biologics for a variety of viruses of concern. In the case of ingredients of porcine origin, those viruses of concern are listed in 9 CFR 113.47 Detection of extraneous viruses by the fluorescent antibody technique. These include rabies, bovine viral diarrhea virus, REO virus, porcine adenovirus, porcine parvovirus, transmissible gastroenteritis virus, and porcine hemagglutinating encephalitis virus. While porcine circovirus may not be specifically mentioned in the 9 CFR requirements, it will be prudent to add a nucleic acid-based assay for detection of this virus to the porcine raw material testing battery going forward. Similarly, Master and Working cell banks exposed to porcine raw materials (e.g., trypsin) during their developmental history should be assayed for PCV prior to use.

Routine nucleic acid-based testing for PCV should detect the genomic sequences for this virus should intact infectious or non-infectious PCV be present in the test materials. Now that this virus is one of concern to the FDA and to the public, performing the appropriate raw material and cell bank testing for it will most likely become an expectation for vaccine and biologics manufacturers.

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