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Research Programmes - Synthetic Nanobiotechnology and Biomachines

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  • Industrial Synthetic Biology platform

    14th May 2020

    ValitaCHO: Faster and cheaper manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals using next generation “super” CHO cell lines generated using a novel directed evolution and synthetic biology strategy

    The biopharmaceutical industry is rapidly growing and is crucial to the well-being of global citizens. Biotherapeutics offer significant advantages and we now have the theoretical toolkit to treat almost all diseases. Significant challenges exist in transferring it to a viable solution.

    Currently over 70% of the commercial biotherapeutics are manufactured using Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells, but it is widely acknowledged that in their current format this is unlikely to continue. As the complexity increases, the economics of current CHO based biomanufacturing further deteriorates and, as we prepare for more futuristic applications, the CHO expression system needs to be significantly improved or to be completely replaced.

    The key objective of this project is to generate “super” CHO cell lines for improved biopharmaceutical production. Herein, we describe an approach to utilise all of the knowledge generated to date on CHO cells and to evolve this to develop a cell line more fit for purpose, in terms of both cost and production capacity.

    Contact details:
    Deepak Balaji TG PhD (KU Leuven Belgium)
    Marie Curie Global Individual Fellow (2020-2023)
    ERA Leader Synthetic Biology
    Centre Manager – CSIR Synthetic Biology and Precision Medicine Centre
    CSIR NextGeneration Health
    Pretoria, South Africa
    email:

     

     

  • Functional Precision Medicine platform in cancer

    14th May 2020

    Drug repurposing for Cancer Precision medicine: High-Throughput Drug Screening as an integrative precision medicine platform in drug repurposing for South African cancer patient cohort.

    Optimizing Drug discovery and Translation is one of the key tracks in Global Challenges Annual meeting 2019 and is the critical factor in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 Good Health and Well Being. WHO reports Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally with the estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018 (1 in 6 death is due to cancer). In additional, 70% of mortality from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries such as South Africa.

    Relevance to the low- or middle-income country setting and Grand Challenges: Recent report from Discovery Medical Schemes states that cancer causes more death in South Africa than HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Leukaemia is one of the top ten most common cancer in South Africa. In addition, leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer (25.4% of all cancers) in South Africa, which is similar to rates in other countries.

    Currently, there is drive at South Africa by DSI, CSIR and MRC to establish a precision medicine program that would address the needs of South African Patient cohort. Our functional precision medicine strategy is designed to directly identify tailored drug regimens that target individual patient´s cancer cells and give benefit to the same donors by supporting clinical decision-making.

    We aim for this project to serve as a proof of concept to showcase whether individually designed high throughput drug sensitivity screening along with microfluidics based single cell drug screening can provide patient benefit with limited material available and to build competence on existing drug sensitivity screening at CSIR using newly developed platform technologies such as microfluidics based single cell drug screening. The proposed project is therefore well aligned with the strategy of present drive of South African Precision Medicine initiative.

    Contact details:
    Deepak Balaji TG PhD (KU Leuven Belgium)
    Marie Curie Global Individual Fellow (2020-2023)
    ERA Leader Synthetic Biology
    Centre Manager – CSIR Synthetic Biology and Precision Medicine Centre
    CSIR NextGeneration Health