The application of STEP-technology® for particle and protein dispersion detection studies in biopharmaceutical research

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Particle detection and analysis techniques are essential in biopharmaceutical industries to evaluate the quality of various parenteral formulations regarding product safety, product quality and to meet the regulations set by the authority agencies. Several particle analysis systems are available on the market, but for the operator, it is quite challenging to identify the suitable method to analyze the sample. At the same time these techniques are the basis to gain a better understanding in biophysical processes, e.g. protein interaction and aggregation processes. The STEP-Technology® (Space and Time resolved Extinction Profiles), as used in the analytical photocentrifuge LUMiSizer®, has been shown to be an effective and promising technique to investigate particle suspensions and emulsions in various fields.

In this study, we evaluated the potentials and limitations of this technique for biopharmaceutical model samples. For a first experimental approach, we measured silica and polystyrene (PS) particle standard suspensions with given particle density and refractive index (RI). The concluding evaluation was performed using a variety of relevant data sets to demonstrate the significant influences of the particle density for the final particle size distribution (PSD). The most challenging property required for successful detection, turbidity, was stated and limits have been set based on the depicted absorbance value at 320 nm (A320 values). Furthermore, we produced chemically cross-linked protein particle suspensions to model physically “stable” protein aggregates. These results of LUMiSizer® analysis have been compared to the orthogonal methods of nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), dynamic light scattering (DLS) and micro-flow imaging (MFI). Sedimentation velocity distributions showed similar tendencies, but the PSDs and absolute size values could not be obtained.

In conclusion, we could demonstrate some applications as well as limitations of this technique for biopharmaceutical samples. In comparison to orthogonal methods this technique is a great complementary approach if particle data e.g. density or refractive index can be determined.

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