Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2018 Oct;53:137-143. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 23.

Integrated viral clearance strategies-reflecting on the present, projecting to the future.

Author information

Merck & Co., Inc., Biologics and Vaccines, Downstream Process Development and Engineering Department, Kenilworth, NJ 07033, USA. Electronic address:


Viral clearance and inactivation are critical steps in ensuring the safety of biological products derived from mammalian cell culture and are a component of an adventitious agent control strategy which spans both upstream and downstream processes. Although these approaches have been sufficient to support the development of biologics to date, the empirical and semi-quantitative nature of the approach leaves some potential gaps. For example, the concept of performing a quantitative risk assessment for the downstream components of virus safety was introduced in ICH Q5A for XMuLV. An ideal future state would be to perform a similar quantitative risk assessment for a range of viruses based on an assessment of potential virus risk in both upstream and downstream processes. This assessment combined with an integrated control strategy (including monitoring) would be extremely beneficial in minimizing potential adventitious agent risks. Significant progress has been achieved towards this goal in the last several years including recent advances in quantification of virus sequences in cell banks (ADVTIG), development of truly modular or generic viral clearance claims for specific unit operations, enhanced controls of upstream media (HTST/nanofiltration) and the use of RVLP for in-process monitoring. The recent shift towards continuous processing has the potential to enhance the criticality of in-line monitoring and the complexity of viral clearance and inactivation (owing to a wide range of potential 'worst case' viral clearance scenarios). However, gaps exist in, firstly, the ability to quantify potential virus risk levels in process streams in real-time, secondly, mechanistic understanding of virus/chromatography media interactions, and thirdly, mechanistic understanding of virus/filter interactions. Some new technologies may also need to be developed to allow for real-time confirmation of virus inactivation and clearance to support process development (both batch and continuous) and assessment of the impact of process deviations during manufacturing. This review paper provides an overview of the current state of an overall integrated control strategy for upstream and downstream processing and highlights the investments that could be pursued to achieve the future state of a quantitative virus risk assessment for a range of viruses. One potential approach to address these gaps is the use of data mining from large, comprehensive and diverse data sets to establish heuristic rules for virus detection, clearance and inactivation followed by specific hypothesis-driven experiments for cases that fall outside of the normal paradigm. Once this approach reaches a mature state suitable for implementation, there is an opportunity to update regulatory guidance (e.g. ICH Q5A) accordingly.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center