Antibodies and related proteins comprise one of the largest and fastest-growing classes of protein pharmaceuticals. A majority of such molecules are monoclonal antibodies; however, many new entities are antibody fragments. Due to their structural, physiological, and pharmacological properties, antibody fragments offer new biopharmaceutical opportunities. In the case of recombinant full-length antibodies with suitable Fc regions, two or three column purification processes centered around Protein A affinity chromatography have proven to be fast, efficient, robust, cost-effective, and scalable. Most antibody fragments lack Fc and suitable affinity for Protein A. Adapting proven antibody purification processes to antibody fragments demands different affinity chromatography. Such technology must offer the unit operation advantages noted above, and be suitable for most of the many different types of antibody fragments. Protein L affinity chromatography appears to fulfill these criteria—suggesting its consideration as a key unit operation in antibody fragment processing.
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