A Chassis for Enhanced Mammalian Cell Line Development and Engineering

Biologic drugs ($160+ billion market) provide better long-term health outcomes with fewer side effects than many traditional drugs. However, due to high development and production costs, these drugs are 20x more expensive, on average, limiting the access to these therapies and burdening healthcare systems. To a great extent, this is because traditionally flexible and creative biotech SMEs currently lack rational tools for mammalian cell line development (most of the biologic drugs are produced in mammalian cell lines), meaning that large investment in terms of capital and time is required to make a production cell line.

ICF, an established player in the biotechnology industry, develops a technology for more efficient development of mammalian cell lines for high-yield protein production. It reduces the need for robotic systems and high-throughput screening facilities (€900 000 -> €200 000), the time (6-12 months -> 3) and cost (€100 000 -> €50 000) of cell line development. These advantages stem from specific landing platforms, predefined integration sites, recombination-dependent insertion and amplification of expression units. The technology will enable biotech SMEs to develop the process of production of new biologic drugs at lower costs and faster, eventually enabling biologic drugs to penetrate more cost-sensitive indications and target groups.

IcoCell project is aimed at optimizing the landing platform, generating cell lines compatible with process of development of industrial cell factories, generating regulatory documentation, preparing standard operating procedures, demonstrating the production of different types of proteins and implementing initial exploitation activities.

Cell line development market is expected to grow at CAGR of 12.8% (2014-2022) and the market for cell line development to produce therapeutic proteins exceeds €900M. Commercialization of IcoCell technology will mean breakthrough for ICF, increasing revenues by an estimated €26M in 2021

The opportunity to focus on the production of biopharmaceuticals is often taken from SMEs since huge amount of resources is required for the development of high-producer cell lines. We envision that our parental cell factories will increase the efficiency of cell line engineering and will effectively reduce the time-to-market for mammalian cell-based products. It allows SMEs to leverage their traditional strengths of adaptability and creativity, and to develop novel products for biotechnology industries.

Project period: May 1, 2016 - April 30, 2018.