While many perceive mammalian cell culture-based manufacturing for biopharmaceuticals an established technology, numerous open questions remain to be solved. Genetic diversity and mutation rates in CHO cells have been underestimated since progeny of a clonal CHO cell become genetically diverse with each cell division. This is an important issue since products are made in bioreactors containing up to 1014
cells that have divided for weeks. Regulatory interest in “Proof of Clonality” is a misguided and misunderstood concern in this context. We revisit decades of research on scope and rate of genetic changes in CHO cells and suggest approaches to minimize trends for genomic instability when establishing reliable manufacturing processes. A concept is proposed for transfection-derived cell populations containing relatively stable (The term “stable” will always be used in a context of relative stability—considering time frames of weeks to months at best.) “CHO master sequence” genomes (containing the desired DNAs of interest). Stable cell populations are to be selected for and maintained for the various phases of manufacturing under specific culture conditions reducing trends for the selection of diverse subpopulations. Such conditions are based on insights gained from population genetics, evolutionary landscape fitness principles, and a 40-year old model for evolution of error prone replicating systems—the Quasi-Species concept.
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